While Paris may have banned shared e-scooters from its streets over safety and clutter concerns, one neighbourhood in Ottawa is fast becoming an e-scooter hotspot.
Repair and Run on Richmond Road sells and repairs privately owned e-scooters and e-bikes and co-founder Youssef Botros said he is seeing an increase in demand and interest, especially with the early warm weather.
“Everyone and their mother wants to buy them right now,” he said. “You can sell them online, buy them at Costco, everyone is buying them, but there isn’t a place to service them. That’s where we come in.”
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E-scooters, bikes and e-bikes are available for purchase, but Botros said he sees more demand for servicing and repairs. The store features a workshop where customers can interact with technicians. His shop provides quick servicing for products, usually with same-day turnarounds, and also offers a “come-to-you” service for at-home service calls — the technician travels using an electric cargo bike, of course.
Repair and Run has stores in Toronto, including a second opening soon, and Vancouver. Botros said Westboro is a unique market for e-scooters and e-bikes.
“When it comes to sales, there’s more interest in Westboro,” he said. “We’ve noticed that, with the micro-mobility world, there isn’t as much of a demographic here who are into commuting. People here do it for leisure. It’s a cycling-friendly neighbourhood and people come from all over, like Brockville or Kingston. There are not many shops around that sell and service.”
Westboro retailers such as Mountain Equipment Company, Lululemon and other cycling and sports shops attract active, outdoorsy customers to the area, he added.
“There are lots of paths, it’s an active neighbourhood and a lot of customers who come in are into some kind of sport,” Botros said. “All those things make Westboro a great community for this.”
As for rental e-scooters, Westboro did not have any available last year and only a limited number in 2021. In anticipation of this season, Judy Lincoln, executive director of the Westboro BIA, said she met with service providers to discuss space issues and other concerns.
“Our sidewalks are pretty tight and we want to make sure people don’t use them on sidewalks. There’s also designated parking for them,” she said. “They have great tech for geo-fencing those areas. You don’t want abandoned scooters leaning against the front window of a business, but if that can be alleviated, there’s lots of excitement about using them.”
In a referendum earlier this year organized by the city’s mayor, Paris residents voted 89 per cent against keeping shared e-scooters in the city. Concerns included reckless driving and clutter on sidewalks.
In Westboro, Lincoln said she has seen “lots of interest” in rental e-scooters from businesses looking to attract more people to the area.
“Having the scooters will help link that end of the LRT line,” she explained. “They’re a great way to make that connection closer. I think for us, anything that can bring people through is great. We only have small pockets of parking and we’re just after the LRT, so it’s helping people feel the different options.”
The City of Ottawa has approved a fourth summer for e-scooters and renewed contracts with e-scooter rental companies Bird Canada and Neuron Mobility for a combined fleet of 900 scooters. The city will meet with providers regularly to discuss progress and concerns, said Heidi Cousineau, program manager of neighbourhood traffic calming with the city.
“Staff will continue to track feedback from residents to ensure appropriate operational changes and increased education are addressed,” Cousineau said. “The continued refinement of new technologies will also help set the stage for a safe environment and enjoyable season for both riders and pedestrians.”