Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Will electric scooters become permanent in Ottawa?

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2024 marks the final year of Ottawa’s electric scooter pilot project, but will the program be extended?

Transportation committee chair Tim Tierney tells CFRA Kristy Cameron it’s up to the province of Ontario to extend the project and make the scooters permanent. He notes that it’s highly likely for the province to extend it.

“I don’t think that they’re going to axe it,” Tierney said. “We’ve had two very successful years, we’ll see what happens this year.”

Tierney says this year, they will be implementing a number of changes that could see more scooters hit the streets, including implementing a sobriety test in the later hours of the evening around 11 p.m., and an earlier start to the season.

“We also want to extend the season, we’re starting a month earlier on April 15. People are actually using it to go to a local restaurant, or even getting to work,” Tierney said.

He warns that it is possible to be banned from using the scooters. He says those scooters are “smart,” noting that Ottawa has been an example of safe riding in North America.

Meanwhile, city staff sent a memo on Tuesday evening to the mayor and city councillors, saying they will be initiating the process of offering a contract extension to Bird Canada and Neuron Mobility to continue the provincial pilot program.

In the memo, staff recommended the changes that Tierney said his committee is implementing this year.

The 2023 season allowed scooters to be used between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. Staff asked to see those hours extended from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m., with an exemption for the ByWard Market.

Staff also asked council to remove a 10 cent per ride user fee and explore options with service providers to make helmets available for all users.

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 William Eltherington

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