By mid-2023, a public e-scooter sharing service will be available on the streets of Vancouver, complementing the existing Mobi public bike sharing network.
Last week, the Vancouver City Council approved a members’ motion by ABC councilor Sarah Kirby-Yung to move forward with an e-scooter sharing service starting next spring.
This is all part of the City of Vancouver’s participation in the provincial government’s e-scooter pilot program with participating municipalities. The e-scooter sharing service would itself be a pilot program within the larger pilot.
Although personal e-scooters have been allowed on Vancouver’s protected bike paths and small streets since the summer of 2021, the city council at the time failed to authorize an e-scooter sharing program about safety. , accessibility and clutter in public space.
But as explained by a representative of mobility stock company Bird Canada at the city council meeting, many major technological advances have been made in the e-scooter subsector to allay these concerns — especially in the two years since Kirby-Yung first launched such a business. proposed. program.
The smartphone app can be programmed to limit new riders to a slower speed for the first few rides, gradually becoming more familiar with the device. Geo-fencing capabilities can be activated via the app to prevent e-scooters from traveling and parking in places where they are not allowed.
The app tech now also makes it possible to require riders to take a photo of their parking spot to hold them accountable, and take a pre-ride selfie of themselves with the included helmet attached to each e-scooter. . According to provincial regulations, cyclists and e-scooter riders are obliged to wear a helmet.
In addition, the latest devices have new anti-tilt design features and dynamic steering wheel controls, and the devices now have a much longer lifespan of five to six years — compared to just a few months for the first-generation devices.
“It makes no sense to me to [micro-mobility] options available,” Kirby-Yung said during the meeting. “Micromobility is here to stay and is quickly being adopted.”
“With regard to security, we’ve heard about the technology, which is improving regularly, and it will continue to improve, just like everything else in our lives… It’s now driven by technology. There is so much more control with shared services than with privately owned devices.”
She added that e-scooter sharing services provide their users with expensive, high-quality devices with more safety design features, while a person may not be able to afford to buy their own decent device of a similar caliber, which costs an average of about $1,500. .
Kirby-Yung’s motion was passed with amendments, most notably adding consultations with the city’s advisory committees for seniors, people with disabilities, transportation and residents, with a specific focus on keeping e-scooters off sidewalks and reducing the risk to pedestrians.
The approved motion instructs city officials to conduct a competitive bidding process to select a company to start and operate the e-scooter sharing service.
Vancouver, of course, already has a bike-sharing service, which was launched in 2016 with significant investment by the city to cover startup costs.
But Kirby-Yung suggests that an e-scooter sharing service won’t compete directly with Mobi bike share.
“In support of zero-emission transport, it appears that more people ride shared e-scooters than shared bicycles. However, both are instrumental in a robust micromobility system. Reducing the number of shared modes available to people limits the number of people willing to get out of their cars, counteracting sustainable mode sharing goals,” she wrote in her motion.
She cited data from Portland, where 45% of their e-scooter share users never ride a bike and 78% never use their city’s bike sharing service. A 2018 Portland e-scooter sharing pilot program found that 34% of e-scooter riders replaced car use on their last e-scooter ride.
Other jurisdictions in BC that have allowed public e-scooter sharing service under the provincial pilot program are Kelowna and Richmond.