Electric scooters will be moving at half speed on three main Edmonton streets this year in an effort to deter users from riding on the busy sidewalks.
With up to 4,000 e-scooters bound for Edmonton streets this summer, the city and three approved e-scooter vendors have made changes to reinforce the rules and improve safety. This includes slow zones of 12 km/h on Jasper Avenue, Whyte Avenue and 124 Street in an effort to encourage riders to use bike lanes on streets just blocks away.
As of last week, the three providers were allowed to release 250 e-scooters on city streets that will ramp up in April.
Downtown Business Association executive director Puneeta McBryan said scooters speeding along sidewalks are a major safety issue along busy roads, like Jasper Avenue. E-scooters aren’t allowed to operate on sidewalks and violations could result in a $100 fine.
In an effort to curb the issue, local business associations have worked with the e-scooter providers to develop slow zones to improve safety for pedestrians, also with the hopes of getting riders off the main streets. McBryan said this is the best way to ensure e-scooters are still accessible to getting around the city without clamping down and closing access to some roads outright. Using geofencing, e-scooters will slow down when they automatically cross a boundary.
“We have such an extensive bike lane network Downtown so if people could just stick to the bike lanes and side streets that aren’t as busy, that’s ideal,” McBryan said in an interview with Postmedia Thursday. “The ideal scenario would be being able to enforce it and not having anyone ride on the sidewalks, but there are so many positives for the e-scooters, we don’t want to make all the benefits go away by over-regulating this. We just need to address some of the safety and misuse concerns.”
In a public survey delivered by the city last December, 94 per cent of respondents said they saw e-scooters being used on sidewalks at least once and 68 per cent said the city should be doing more to enforce if they aren’t used properly. Now in the third e-scooter season, the city hasn’t issued any tickets for e-scooter use violations. There have been 59 warnings issued over the past two years.
Olga Messinis, the city’s director of traffic operations, said the city will continue to try and get the word out about the rules of the road and that enforcement will be ramped up.
“While we really do strive to educate and we work quite closely with the e-scooter providers to provide that education, enforcement is definitely something that will be hitting the streets this summer,” she said.
Another mitigation measure continuing from last year is the use of corrals to store the e-scooters so they aren’t strewn across sidewalks. The city and vendors are looking at the possibility of more corrals in frequently-used areas.
Also new this year is a third vendor with Spin Mobility Inc. joining Lime and Bird as licensed providers.