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E-scooters to zip around Calgary once again

Last Updated May 21, 2020 at 4:39 pm MDT

(PHOTO: Tom Ross - 660 NEWS)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — As restrictions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic start to ease, a familiar sight will be returning to Calgary’s streets and sidewalks.

Starting Friday, e-scooters will be rolling around once more following a successful pilot in 2019.

But it isn’t without some changes, starting with a reduced number of scooters for the first phase of the relaunch.

Bird and Lime will each be putting 150 of the scooters on the streets, after Alberta Health Services gave a green light to the city to restart the program which was briefly put on hold due to the virus.

Lime bikes will not be returning though, after the company announced earlier in the year that the model was unsustainable.

“If things go very, very well in the first month, it’s not out of imagination that we’ll just go to straight to a larger number or there may be graduated steps. It all depends on whether the companies are able to maintain the new cleaning and safety protocols that they are proposing,” said Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

On those protocols, Nenshi said the companies cannot do everything when it comes to sanitation and it will largely be up to the riders to keep themselves safe.

“These are shared devices, they are high touch zones. Someone will have touched that before you, they are not sanitized between users. So you are taking a risk and you need to mitigate that risk, you have to use hand sanitizer on your hands, give the handlebars and other touch areas a quick wipe-down before and after use.”

He added that you should avoid touching your face while riding and otherwise follow the same hygiene practices we have adopted over the past few months.

There are new restrictions to keep in mind as well relating to speed and fines for improper usage.

“We’re going to have slow speed zones this year in Kensington, Mission and Inglewood,” Nenshi said, “you can’t go more than 15 km/h in those places.”

That provision followed concerns from the public that riders were endangering pedestrians by cruising too quickly through more heavily populated pedestrian areas and was adopted by City Council along with additional penalties.

“Seventy-five bucks if you are doubling. Remember only one person can be on the device at a time. Seventy-five dollars for using it where prohibited, $150 for interfering with sidewalk users, $400 for reckless driving, $400 for colliding with a pedestrian,” Nenshi detailed.

Two people ride on the same Lime e-scooter along the Riverwalk pathway in southeast Calgary. Thursday, August 15th, 2019.

While some people will be very excited to get back on the devices that took the city by storm last summer, Nenshi stressed that these are a useful piece of the transportation network and you should only hop on if you really need it.

“The return of the e-scooters does not mean ‘hey everybody, take a fun scooter ride! It’s a free for all.’ The return of the e-scooters does mean that last summer we saw them as an important and interesting part of our transportation network to help people — especially people living in communities like the Beltline — run their errands and get around.”