Electric scooters returned to Ottawa’s streets this past week following the City of Ottawa’s approval this spring for the fourth season of a pilot project.
As many as 900 e-scooters from operators Neuron Mobility and Bird Canada will be available for commuters to rent.
Complaints about sidewalk riding and haphazard parking dogged the program in previous seasons. A regime imposed last year, in which geofencing and artificial intelligence technology were used to limit parking space and to thwart sidewalk riders, remains in place. All scooters were also outfitted to emit continuous sounds while moving, a requirement that may be a North American first.
Also, riding on sidewalks carries a fine of $150.
In a media release, Neuron Mobility said it was launching new “augmented reality parking assistant technology” to increase parking compliance and the use of designated parking stations. Before trips can end, riders who are not within a parking station will be directed to one nearby.
Neuron’s end-of-trip photo feature requires a rider to photograph and upload an image of their e-scooter to ensure the vehicle is parked correctly.
According to a city staff report, the fleet of e-scooters could grow to number 1,200 in 2024 “should the providers’ performance standards continue to improve and there is a demonstrated demand.” In 2020, there were just 600 e-scooters available in Ottawa.
These rules apply to e-scooter use in Ottawa:
• Riders must be 16 years old and above;
• Those under 18 need consent from a parent or a legal guardian;
• Helmets are mandatory for riders under 18 and recommended for all users;
• E-scooters may be used on City of Ottawa’s multi-use pathways, bike lanes, cycle tracks and roads with a speed of 50 km/h or lower; a National Capital Commission webpage says electric kick-style scooters are prohibited on the Capital Pathway “parkways when they are open for active use only;
• One rider per e-scooter, and no tandem riding with children;
• Always keep a safe distance from and give way to pedestrians and mobility devices such as wheelchairs;
• Do not ride under the influence of alcohol or other substances;
• Be aware and remove earphones;
• Park responsibly and don’t cause an obstruction. Riders are encouraged to use incentivized parking zones.
The e-scooter program is revenue-neutral for the City of Ottawa. Its estimated $195,000 cost for 2023 will be recouped through fees charged to scooter companies. The Ontario government started a five-year pilot program for e-scooters in 2020.
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