City committee OKs plan for up to 1,500 e-scooters on Ottawa streets

Scooters
Lime is one of three scooter-sharing services that operated in Ottawa last year. File photo

Electric scooters have been given the green light from a city committee to run on Ottawa’s streets for another year.

The city’s transportation committee voted Wednesday to approve a pilot project that would see between 1,200 and 1,500 e-scooters available for rent between April and November ​– more than double the 600 vehicles that hit the streets as part of the initial pilot project in 2020.

Up to three operators will be selected to provide the scooters through a competitive bidding process. Three companies – Bird Canada, Lime and Roll – ended up winning bids to provide scooters in 2020.

While the scooters operated only inside the Greenbelt last year, staff are recommending that the city explore the idea of allowing up to 300 of the devices in a suburban neighbourhood in 2021. A city report says operators will be asked to partner with a ward councillor, business improvement area or business association outside the Greenbelt to determine a suitable location.

E-scooters, which typically travel up to 24 km/h, are borrowed using a mobile app and must be parked in designated areas. In response to complaints about improper parking and users riding on sidewalks last year, scooter companies will have to provide a way to report improperly parked vehicles in the app and will be required to warn or remove riders for parking violations.

The city sees e-scooters as a form of “micromobility” that would give residents an alternative to using their private vehicles or ride-hailing services such as Uber, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the staff report, nearly 73,000 unique riders took more than 238,000 trips during last year’s pilot. Nearly half the riders who responded to a city survey about e-scooters said they drove less, and one third said they travelled less often as a passenger in a car.

Full council will consider the project at its next meeting on Feb. 10.