The idea to pilot e-scooters will move before Lethbridge city council on Tuesday, following successful presentations at the civic works standing policy committee meeting on May 6.
Members voted unanimously to recommend the matter move forward to this week’s city council meeting, after a lengthy discussion earlier this month.
Adam St. Amant, the city’s transportation engineer, told committee members e-scooters would provide an alternate, environmentally-friendly mode of transportation that could attract more people to the downtown.
He also acknowledged the potential challenges that go along with the rentable electric scooters, including vandalism and theft.
Rules about use, parking and maintenance would be discussed with the e-scooter provider.
Both Lime and Bird Canada, two companies who piloted projects in Calgary and Edmonton, presented at the meeting. The companies are part of a competitive process for the pilot.
Annie MacInnis, executive director with the Kensington Business Improvement Area, says the introduction of e-scooters to Calgary was beneficial to business but also had some drawbacks.
“What we saw in the first year or so, was a fairly steep learning curve. People kind of didn’t fully appreciate how to use these,” she explained.
“We saw a lot of double-riding which would lead to falls and a lot of high speed, because there were no limitations on speed.”
MacInnis said the kinks were worked out through the cooperation from BIAs, the city and the providers. She expects Lethbridge could use other jurisdictions as an example if it goes ahead with the program.
“It’s a good idea,” she said. “I think the e-scooters are very popular. I think there’s a novelty to them.”
While the idea is still in early stages and details have to be worked out if approved, downtown businesses are fond of the idea.
“I think it’s a nice alternative for people who take the bus… They can kind of do it on their own time,” said Poppin Tags owner Bill Friesen.
“For the businesses, it’s great because they’re coming right by our storefronts.”
Scott Warris, co-owner of Analog Books, believes this type of program is inevitable.
“I think they’re fine… It’s the way of the future for transportation, and Lethbridge should certainly be on the edge of that.”
“I don’t see any real negatives of having a scooter program,” said retail operation manager of Draffin’s Pharmasave, Logan Ramsdell. “It seemed to work in downtown Calgary, downtown Edmonton so I don’t see why it wouldn’t work in downtown Lethbridge.”
Committee members were told the plan is to have this program in place “as soon as possible”.