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Post-COVID Calgary escooter boost could hit 2,500 units

If you’ve been having trouble finding an e-scooter to buzz around on in Calgary, get ready, you’re about to see hundreds more on city streets.

After launching a 500-scooter, AHS-prescribed test May 22, the city will now boost their cohort of allowable escooters to 2,500 as of Monday (June 22). That number is the amount targeted in the city’s shared electric scooter pilot project.

According to Andrew Sedor, business development coordinator for City of Calgary Transportation, both Lime and Bird will have up to 1,000 scooters each, while a new player, Roll, will have 500.

They started off with 500 as the province re-opened, to see what, if any, coronavirus health impact there would be.

“We said we were going to wait one month to see if there’s any negative impacts associated with it,” he said.

“Again, working with Alberta Health Services, there were none that arose that we were aware of, and so we said, OK, now you can go to your goal of 2,500.”

The city’s shared electric scooter pilot page does provide basic health information for users. It’s also very clear to point out that they are being shared and they’re likely not cleaned after every use.

Lime sees big demand with fewer units

With only 150 scooters on the road over the past month, Jonathan Hopkins, government affairs for Lime in Canada and northwest US, said they saw between seven and nine clients per scooter, per day. Those numbers dwarf even the biggest markets they have in the world.

Even with the high usage, there have been no reports of COVID-19 outbreaks associated with scooter use. They say the risk will drop further with more units.

“By increasing the number of scooters, you lower the number of trips per share,” he said.

“And that means you take a very extremely low risk and make it even lower.”

The open air, the travel speed, the distance between users and others – plus those who do sani-wipe the grips – provide a safer health environment.

Hopkins said he wasn’t sure how quickly they’d ramp up to the 1,000 scooters. He suspected it would be over several days.

Reminder of changes – plus some added ones

Sedor said there were four reduced speed zones – Kensington, Inglewood, Mission and a new one along Stephen Avenue.

Three of the zones were put in place as the city’s pilot project went into its second season. They were responding to feedback from stakeholders in certain areas.

In Kensington, they’ve also added new education signs along the pathway into the area suggesting that riders dismount and walk. Users can still ride, but the hope is it will fix potential conflict with pedestrian and other traffic. Further, there were issues with scooters being left in the middle of pedestrian walk zones.

“I realize that not everyone’s going to do this, but it just helps kind of mitigate some of the issues,” Sedor said.

The city has added the Stephen Avenue reduced speed zone this summer. This is in response to the COVID-extended patios in the area combined with the vehicle restrictions. Sedor said they worked with the area Business Improvement Area to plan for potential pedestrian and scooter issues.

As far as ticketing, Sedor said that they’ve had a couple warnings handed out. He wasn’t aware of any tickets.

The city added new rules and fines for the 2020 portion of the pilot project.