CALGARY — With many people avoiding public or shared transit during COVID-19, the personal e-scooter market has seen a massive increase in sales over the last year.
However, privately-owned e-scooters face more restrictions than rental e-scooters in many municipalities.
In Calgary, you can rent an e-scooter and ride it along any sidewalk, bike lane, and pathway. But if you buy an e-scooter, you can only take it along pathways. The city can ticket you if you ride on sidewalks or pathways.
“To be honest the rental market has ruined a lot of PR for us just because people rent them, they drive like maniacs on sidewalks and do whatever they want and of course it’s always the first headline of the newspapers,” said Christopher Rey with Apollo Scooters.
“But at the end of the day, electric scooters like ours are much safer and people driving them use them like bikes and electric bikes–with great respect.”
He says after Lime and Bird launched in Calgary, Apollo saw a spike in sales. Several other e-scooter companies have reported an increase in sales as well.
“I would say about 40 per cent of the increase is from customers who have thought about getting an electric scooter before but did not make the jump. COVID was a factor for them to finally make the purchase,” said Olivia Yau with Urban Machina in a statement.
“Using e-scooters to avoid public transit is probably the biggest reason people (are) using e-scooters. Another reason is that as people are able to work from home, they drive a lot less. We have customers who had two insured vehicles in the family but have cut it down to one insured vehicle. They choose to use e-scooters for commutes that don’t require them to drive.”
GOTRAX Director of Marketing Jeff Lawrence echoes Yua, agreeing that COVID-19 and finding creative ways of commuting are driving sales. He also says isolation boredom could be motivators for those looking to buy an e-scooter.
Yau says that people, in general, are more careful when riding an e-scooter they own compared to when riding a rental–so cities with different legislation for privately-owned scooters and shared rental scooters need to reconsider the restrictions that impact private owners.
“There is less chance of riders being reckless on a scooter they own. There are reports of people parking the rental scooters in the middle of sidewalk causing hazards, throwing scooters in water, or letting them pile up. You don’t do that to a scooter you own.”