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Politics

Bird Canada CEO says he was ‘blindsided’ by Iveson’s e-scooter concerns, city councillor to ask police about their use

City councillors say Edmonton's e-scooter riders need to be better at following the rules of the road. The scooters have surged in popularity since launching in our city, but pedestrians are now pushing back. Fletcher Kent reports.

One day after Mayor Don Iveson voiced concerns about how e-scooters are being used in Edmonton, the CEO of one of the two companies providing the two-wheeled vehicles says the mayor and the city never mentioned the concerns to him.

“We kind of got blindsided by this,” Bird Canada CEO Stewart Lyons said on Wednesday’s edition of 630 CHED Afternoons. “We talk to the city all the time, they’ve had nothing but good things to say to us.

“We’ve talked to the mayor’s office before [and they] never said anything like this to us. I don’t know if this is a knee-jerk thing based on something he (Iveson) heard recently.”

On Tuesday, Iveson told reporters that he’s concerned after hearing complaints about e-scooters being used on sidewalks, which is against the rules. He also said he’s heard e-scooters are being left in places that make it hard for people with mobility issues to get around them.

“From my point, it’s not going well, and users are not abiding by the rules,” he said.

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READ MORE: Edmonton mayor not impressed with e-scooter use: ‘It’s not going well’

Lyons said Wednesday he has not heard about any issues with sidewalk use or e-scooters blocking people from getting around.

“If there are concerns, I can take a look at them… [but] we can’t do much if nobody says anything to us,” he said.

Lyons said he believes Bird Canada is “doing a pretty good job educating” e-scooter users about the rules.

“There’s a big sticker on the side of every scooter that says ‘do not ride on sidewalks,'” he said, “When you download the app, there’s a local rules section that forces you to go through it and says you can’t ride on sidewalks.”

LISTEN BELOW: Steward Lyons, CEO of Bird Canada, speaks to J’lyn Nye on Wednesday’s edition of 630 CHED Afternoons.

Lyons said perhaps there has been confusion because Edmontonians may think the e-scooter rules in Alberta’s capital are the same as in Calgary where the vehicles can be used on sidewalks.

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E-scooters first became available to Edmontonians in mid-August and quickly saw many people in the city use them, especially in central neighbourhoods.

Coun. Scott McKeen said he would like to see a crackdown on the misuse of e-scooters but have such an enforcement blitz emphasize education about the rules as opposed to fines. That said, he would like people who receive warnings about riding the scooters on sidewalks be told what the proposed fine for doing so is. A city spokesperson told Global News on Wednesday that the proposed fine is $250.

READ MORE: E-scooters zipping around Edmonton cause for excitement and concern

McKeen said he plans to bring up e-scooters at the Edmonton Police Commission meeting on Thursday.

“I want to ask if they’re getting 911 calls or non-emergency line calls about it,” he said.

Lyons said he believes people are using e-scooters safely and that to date, his company has yet to hear of any reports of scooter-related injuries in Edmonton.

“We’ve been lucky so far,” he said. “People have been responsible for the most part riding scooters in terms of safety, which is the number one thing we care about.”

Jessica Lamarre, the director of traffic safety at the City of Edmonton, told Global News about how she approached safety the first time she used an e-scooter in the city.

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“The first time that I stopped by and tried one of the scooters, I was on Whyte Avenue,” she said. “I thought to myself, ‘I don’t want to learn how to do this this right on Whyte,’ so I did actually step onto a side road.”

Lyons said Bird Canada expects e-scooter use will decrease in November when cooler weather and snow make their presence felt in Edmonton. He said the company is curious to see how its scooters will fare in snowy conditions.

WATCH BELOW: Some Global News videos about e-scooters in Edmonton.

–With files from Scott Johnston, 630 CHED

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