Sunday, May 26, 2024

E-scooters return to Ottawa Thursday

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Though Ottawa is dealing with a rainy day Thursday, electric scooters are making a comeback.

The return marks the start of a fourth year in the capital, Neuron Mobility Canada – an e-scooter operator — said in a news release on Thursday.

“We are thrilled to return to Ottawa for another year of operations. Ottawa has been a fantastic city for Neuron’s safety first e-scooters and we are excited to have a full season of operations,” Neuron general manager Ankush Karwal said in the release.

Karwal adds that each e-scooter contributes an estimated $5,600 to the capital’s local economy each year.

Here’s a breakdown of its contribution to the community:

• Since the e-scooter program began in 2021, Neuron’s riders have traveled over 520,000 kilometers.

• Forty-one per cent of all trips replaced a car journey, eliminating an estimated 35 tonnes of CO2 emissions in Ottawa.

• Seventy-three per cent of Neuron’s e-scooter trips result in a purchase at a local business, with the average spend $32 per trip.

• New and existing riders can earn free credits by visiting Neuron’s online ScootSafe Academy for city-specific training content to familiarize themselves with the local riding rules.

• Safety is Neuron’s top priority and its e-scooters are fitted with the world’s first integrated helmets, which are highly recommended for all riders in Ottawa.

The service can be used from 5:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. in downtown, Westboro, The Glebe, Sandy Hill and Vanier.

Riders are asked to familiarize themselves with Neuron’s safety rules before using the e-scooters, said Robyn Robertson, president and CEO of the Traffic Industry Research Foundation.

“We look forward to continuing our partnership with Neuron. Using research and applying our award-winning knowledge transfer model, we are pleased to collaborate on a range of safety and training initiatives in 2024,” Robertson said.

“We’d like to remind all riders to wear a helmet; they are the single most important way for riders to protect themselves.”

Bird Canada scooters are also back on the roads, a spokesperson said. The launch of the scooter season comes about a month earlier than last year.

Bird Canada scooters in Ottawa’s ByWard Market. April 18, 2024. (Bird Canada/supplied)

“Bird Canada looks forward to working with our community partners Carleton University, The Byward Market BIA, and The Smart Net Sustainability Coalition to co-host Safety events this season,” a statement from the company said. “We have a walking safety patrol, called the Safe Street Team. We estimate our Safe Street Team had anywhere between 2,000 to 2,500 interactions/conversations with local residents and riders in order to help educate them on Ottawa’s local riding rules and we expect this to double in 2024 as we continue to invest in our local operations. Moreover Bird Canada has done multiple surveys of our riders in Ottawa and consistently see 42% of our trips involve a stop at a local business with a $50 average spend.”

Bird says since 2019, it estimates people using its scooters have prevented more than 295 metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere by replacing what would have been a car trip, including 45 metric tons in 2023 alone. 

“Most cities report that 45 per cent of the time someone taking an electric scooter would have taken a vehicle. Using this assumption we can calculate the emissions prevented by extrapolating the average distance of a Bird e-scooter trip in Ottawa vs the average automobile emissions a trip of that length would admit. Doing so allows us to estimate the CO2 emissions prevented by operating our e-scooter-sharing system,” Bird said.

The City of Ottawa says it plans to start the season with a fleet size of 900 e-scooters and increase it to a maximum of 1,200 if requested and justified by the service providers.

Here are the rules:

• Riders in Ottawa 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 strongly recommended for all users.

• E-scooters can be ridden on city bike lanes, multi-use trails, pathways and streets that have a speed limit of 50km/h or lower. Always stay as far right as is safe.

• The speed limit for e-scooters is 20km/h or 12km/h in designated “slow zones.”

• Riding on sidewalks is not permitted

• One rider is permitted per e-scooter and no tandem riding. Do not ride with children.

• Always keep a safe distance from pedestrians and mobility devices such as wheelchairs.

• Do not ride under the influence of alcohol or other substances.

• Be aware and remove earphones.

• Follow local parking guidelines.

Riders can book and use the e-scooters through Neuron’s app, which can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play. Single trips cost $1.15 to unlock the e-scooter and $0.42 per minute thereafter.

The 2023 season of the pilot program ran from May 15 to Nov. 15 where approximately 50,000 users took about 179,000 trips around the city. There were about 1,000 trips per day, the city says.

This year, the program will run until Nov. 15.

With files from CTV News Ottawa’s Ted Raymond and William Eltherington

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