E-scooters hugely popular in Ottawa launch
OTTAWA -- E-scooters have been a smash hit in their first few days on Ottawa streets, with riders taking several thousand trips on the battery-powered vehicles since they arrived on Thursday.
“It was a great success all weekend,” Stewart Lyons, CEO of Bird Canada, told CTV News at Noon. “We had about 5,000 rides between Thursday and Sunday night, which is pretty incredible, especially since there are only 260 scooters.”
Bird Canada is the first of three companies making the dockless e-scooters available for rent in Ottawa.
The e-scooters can be hailed using an app, and don’t need to be parked at particular stations when users are done with them. They can simply be left in the ‘furniture zone’ of the sidewalk where benches, newspaper boxes and other such items sit.
“There’s a little education process to having something like this in the city,” said Lyons, who was in Ottawa over the weekend for the launch.
Users appear to largely be following the rules. The city's director of transportation planning, Vivi Chi, said in a statement Monday the city has received three service requests for the e-scooters since the program's launch.
"Residents and businesses can contact the e-scooter provider directly to report improperly parked e-scooters," she added. "Providers have committed to respond to mis-parked e-scooters within one hour."
The scooters max out at 20 kilometres per hour and are not permitted on National Capital Commission pathways, the bridges to Gatineau, and pedestrian-only spaces such as Sparks Street.
The no-access zones are clearly indicated in the app. Thanks to ‘geo-fencing’ technology, the scooters beep and slowly roll to a stop if they’re taken into restricted areas.
The newest challenge, Lyons said, is dealing with surging demand for the e-scooters, which means some of them run out of battery life.
“Sometimes people will see a scooter sitting there right in front of them, and they’ll open the app and it won’t be available on the app. That’s because the scooter has no batteries,” he said. “That’s been a bit of our challenge, is just getting them charged and turned around fast enough for people to rent them again.”
Lyons said the scooters are cleaned twice a day as required by the city. But they aren’t disinfected between each use, so it’s recommended each user brings a disinfectant wipe to clean them before riding.
The city has capped the total number of e-scooters available for rent at 600.