Vancouver City Council approves launch of public e-scooter fee in 2023

By mid-2023, a public shared e-scooter service will be available on the streets of Vancouver, complementing the existing Mobi public bike-share network.

Last week, the Vancouver City Council approved a member’s motion for ABC Councilwoman 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 shared e-scooter service would itself be a pilot program within the larger pilot.

While personal electric scooters have been allowed in Vancouver’s protected bike lanes and back streets since the summer of 2021, the city council did not allow a shared electric scooter program due to concerns about safety, accessibility, and public space clutter at that time. moment.

But as a representative from the shared mobility company Bird Canada explained during the city council meeting, there have been many important technological advances in the scooter-sharing industry to mitigate these concerns, especially in the two years since Kirby-Yung first proposed such a program.

The smartphone app can be programmed to limit new riders to a lower speed during their first few trips, allowing them to gradually become familiar with the device. Through the app, geo-fencing capabilities can be activated to prevent e-scooters from traveling and parking in spaces where they are not allowed.

The app’s technology now also allows the option to require riders to take a photo of their parking spot to hold them accountable, and to take a pre-ride selfie with the provided helmet attached to each electric scooter. According to provincial regulations, cyclists and users of electric scooters must wear a helmet.

In addition, the latest devices have new anti-roll and dynamic steering control design features, and the devices now have a much longer lifespan of five to six years, compared to just a few months for the first generation of devices.

“It makes no sense to me to limit the [micro-mobility] available options,” Kirby-Yung said during the meeting. “Micromobility is here to stay and it is being rapidly adopted.”

“On security, we’ve listened with technology, which gets better regularly, and will continue to get better as everything in our lives does… It’s now driven by technology. There is much more control with shared services than with privately owned devices.”

He added that e-scooter sharing services provide their users with high-quality and expensive devices with more safety design features, while a person cannot afford to buy their own decent device of a similar caliber, which has an average cost of around $1,500.

Kirby-Yung’s motion passed with amendments, specifically the addition of consultations with the city’s advisory committees for seniors, people with disabilities, transportation, and residents, with a specific focus on keeping electric scooters off sidewalks and reducing the risk to pedestrians.

The approved motion directs city staff to conduct a competitive bidding process to select a company to start and operate the shared e-scooter service.

Vancouver, of course, already has a bike-sharing service, which launched in 2016 with significant investment from the city to help cover start-up costs.

But Kirby-Yung suggests that an e-scooter sharing service won’t directly compete with Mobi’s shared bikes.

“In support of zero-emission transportation, it is shown that more people ride shared electric scooters than shared bikes. However, both are essential in a robust micromobility system. Reducing the number of modesharing available to people limits the number of people willing to get out of their cars, which runs counter to the goals of sustainable modesharing,” he wrote in his motion.

He cited data from Portland, where 45% of its shared e-scooter users never ride a bike, and 78% never use their city’s bike-share service. A 2018 shared e-scooter pilot program in Portland found that 34% of e-scooter users replaced car use with their last e-scooter ride.

Other jurisdictions in BC that have allowed a shared public e-scooter service under the provincial pilot program include Kelowna and Richmond.

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