The project will last until 2022, at which point a recommendation will be made to the council as to whether it should be made permanent.
Thanks to a newly launched pilot project, e-scooters are rolling along the sidewalks and paths of St. Albert.
The pilot began on September 7th after approval by the city council on August 16th. Currently, three companies – Bird Canada, Roll Scooters, and Spin Mobility – have received city permits to operate in St. Albert.
While scooters can travel up to 20 km / h in other cities like Edmonton, the speed of e-scooters is limited to 15 km / h in St. Albert. The scooters are allowed on all sidewalks or paved paths in St. Albert, but not on streets or bike paths.
Anyone wishing to ride an e-scooter must also be at least 16 years old and wear a helmet. At the end of a journey, e-scooters must be parked in such a way that sidewalks or paths are not obstructed.
Count. Ken Mackay, who filed the motion for the pilot on Aug. 16, said it was worth giving St. Albert a better picture of whether there is demand for e-scooters.
“This could take some vehicles off our streets and add to the city’s culture by getting more people onto our paths,” MacKay said. “They could improve transportation for many of our residents who may not have access to a vehicle.”
In order to prepare for the e-scooter pilot, the council changed its traffic rules to include regulations on where and how e-scooters should be operated on public property. The city has also developed special licensing terms to enact regulations for the operation of the e-scooter companies, including helmet requirements and maximum speed.
Mayor Cathy Heron said she will assist the pilot and address an accident she had while driving an e-scooter in Calgary this summer.
“I was probably faster than 15 km / h when I fell and I support the use of helmets,” Heron said.
Count. Wes Brodhead noted that the e-scooters had a real “pull” about them, but asked those who chose to “gracefully share the sidewalks with those who walk.”
“I’m actually less concerned about the rentals than the 100% owned ones because there is no speed limit on them,” added Brodhead.
In considering the pilot, the council heard presentations from two companies, Bird and Roll.
During the Bird presentation by Chris Schaefer, Coun. Natalie Joly noted that accessibility activists in London, Ontario had spoken out against the use of e-scooters because of concerns about them sharing sidewalks and paths.
“Can you comment on these safety concerns?” asked Joly.
Schafer said e-scooter companies have worked directly with members of the accessibility community.
“I can tell you that last week near London, the Hamilton City Council’s Accessibility Advisory Committee endorsed employee recommendations for a joint commercial e-scooter program,” said Schafer.
He noted that the program is still in its infancy, but the city is considering putting braille contact information on the scooter to direct members of the accessibility community to the company’s website and phone number.
In addition, Schafer said some cities are including members of the accessibility committee on procurement teams who are reviewing proposals for approving e-scooters for businesses.
The e-scooter pilot project in St. Albert will continue until 2022 when a recommendation is made to the council as to whether the project should be made permanent.