Three firms to roll out 1,200 e-scooters in Ottawa in expanded pilot project

E-scooter
Lime is one of three scooter-sharing services that have been chosen to operate in Ottawa in the second year of a pilot program. File photo

Two familiar names and one newcomer have been chosen as the preferred companies to rent electric scooters to Ottawa riders in the second year of a pilot project.

The city said Thursday that three firms – Bird Canada, Lime and Neuron – have won bids to deliver the e-scooters pending payment of insurance, fees and performance securities. Bird Canada and Lime also provided vehicles for the initial pilot project in 2020.

The city’s transportation committee voted in February to continue the project that will see 1,200 e-scooters available for rent until the end of November ​– double the 600 vehicles that hit the streets last year.

With the province still under a stay-at-home order until at least early June, the city says it’s working with Ottawa Public Health to determine a launch date.

While the scooters operated only inside the Greenbelt last year, staff recommended that the city explore the idea of allowing up to 300 of the devices in a suburban neighbourhood in 2021. Thursday’s news release said scooters will be allowed to operate in an “expanded central deployment area” this year.

In a memo on Thursday, Vivi Chi, the city’s director of transportation planning, said “talks are under way” with vendors about the feasibility of renting scooters outside the core and council will be notified if a provider elects to implement a satellite service this season.

E-scooters, which have a speed limit of 20 km/h, are borrowed using a mobile app and must be parked in designated areas. They will be available from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. 

In response to complaints about improper parking and users riding on sidewalks last year, scooter companies will have to provide a way for residents to report improperly parked vehicles in the app and will be required to warn or remove riders for parking violations.

The city sees the two-wheeled vehicles 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 a city report, nearly 73,000 unique riders took more than 238,000 scooter 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.