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E-scooters returning to Calgary; residents warned of coronavirus-related text scam

Nenshi announces e-scooters will return to Calgary
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi announces a trial of e-scooters in the city at a limited capacity.

One thing that will be a familiar sight to Calgarians this spring is e-scooters zooming around the city streets and paths.

Officials announced on Thursday that the scooters will indeed be back, but not as many as there were at the end of the scooting season in the fall.

READ MORE: Province to decide Friday whether Calgary, Brooks will move to next phase of Stage 1 relaunch

According to Mayor Naheed Nenshi, the scooters are coming back in a trial basis for one month, with just 150 scooters per company.

Along with the fewer numbers, there are other changes coming to the city’s scooter program, including slow-speed zones and increased fines.

Slow-speed zones, where scooters won’t be able to go faster than 15 km/h, will be imposed in the following areas:

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  • Inglewood
  • Kensington
  • Mission

Violation fines are going up, after the mayor said the city received feedback from law-abiding scooter users that they wanted violators to see tougher punishments. The new fines range from $75 to $400 and are as follows:

  • $75 for doubling on a scooter
  • $150 for using a scooter where prohibited or interfering with use while riding
  • $400 for reckless scooting or colliding with a pedestrian

The city is also opening up some of the small parking spaces that used to be reserved for Car2Go vehicles for “Share and Go” zones for the scooters, so people can have more accessible places to park their scooter when they’re finished their ride.

READ MORE: Why is the Calgary zone such a hot spot for COVID-19?

While the scooters are coming back, Nenshi said it doesn’t mean they’re back for the same kind of joyriding they were often used for last year — they’re more meant for ease of transportation.

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“The return of the e-scooters doesn’t mean, ‘Hey everybody, take a fun scooter ride! It’s a free for all!’ The return of the scooters does mean that last summer we saw them as an important and interesting part of our transportation network,” Nenshi said.

He said going for a fun scoot downtown with friends is still not advised at this time.

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While the mayor said the scooter operators are taking new, enhanced cleaning steps, people who use them are still strongly urged to keep COVID-19 health and safety measures top of mind if they to decide to take a ride.

“These are shared devices — these are high-touch zones. Someone will have touched it before you, they are not sanitized between users,” Nenshi said.

“So you need to mitigate that risk. You have to use hand sanitizer on your hands, give the handlebars and other high-touch areas a quick wipe down before and after use.”

Nenshi also reminded people not to touch their faces while using, and keep the two-metre distance between all other users of the shared space, including pedestrians and others riding scooters.

READ MORE: COVID-19 asymptomatic tests: 48 positive cases in Calgarians with no known contact with virus

Finally, riders are reminded not to double on the scooters as it not only violates the bylaws, but violates social distancing guidelines.

Nenshi said if things go well in the first month, there could be either a mass introduction of more scooters, or more numbers could be brought in on a gradual basis.

Text message scam targeting Calgarians

The city also warned Calgarians on Thursday about a text message-based scam that’s targeting residents, posing to be the city.

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According to Calgary Emergency Management Agency chief Tom Sampson, some residents have been getting texts saying the city is offering money to those who help combat the spread of the virus.

City of Calgary warns of texting scam
City of Calgary warns of texting scam

“If I look at this message that was sent to us, it says: ‘To combat the tragedy of COVID-19, the city offers its citizens an amount of $135.60 per month — and we’re there for you,'” Sampson said.

“They’re actually pulling off terminology that we use.”

Sampson said the message takes people to a website which is so corrupt, the City of Calgary servers actually won’t let their staff access it.

READ MORE: Coronavirus-related scams have defrauded Canadians $1.2M: official

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The text message advises people to call 268-CITY or 311, making it look more legitimate. The bottom of the message also apparently directs people to send information to a Hotmail email address if they can’t use the website — which the city doesn’t use.

“These are written by the most dastardly people, if I might say that, who want to take your money in a time when everybody needs help.”

Calgary rivers are open, but caution is advised
Calgary rivers are open, but caution is advised