Although Ottawa city council has passed the pilot project extension on the rental of e-scooters, it is important that this program be operated to be as safe as possible particularly to those with accessibility issues. A key concern is the use of sidewalks which is prohibited. Improper use of e-Scooters needs to be monitored and enfractions effectively enforced to ensure the safety of all pedestrians. E-scooters are not only being rented but also purchased and being used across the city whereas rentals are unable to leave the downtown and market area based on geofencing. Just like cyclist, e-scooters operators need to make safety a top concern.Councillor Theresa Kavanagh
City Council enacted the Electric Kick Scooter By-law on June 24, 2020, making it legal to operate e-scooters in Ottawa. On February 10, 2021, Council approved the second season of the e-scooter pilot project to operate between April 1 and November 30, 2021. The City is working with Ottawa Public Health (OPH) and other City departments to determine a launch date and roll out of the program in support of essential travel needs.
When launched, this year’s pilot project will expand the number of available shared e-scooters from 600 in 2020 to 1,200 for 2021 in an expanded central deployment area.
The 2021 program is focused on reducing sidewalk riding and improper parking. This includes the competitive procurement process, which prioritized safety and accessibility in the selection of e-scooter providers, as well as a variety of measures that will be deployed by the providers.
Shared e-scooters are for single riders 16 or older and are equipped with a bell, a brake and lights. Helmets are recommended for all riders and are mandatory for riders under 18.
Shared and private e-scooters offer residents a personal mobility choice that is supportive of physical distancing guidelines, makes connecting with transit easier and can reduce car trips, aligning with the City’s climate change objectives.
The scooters can be unlocked through the app available from the e-scooter providers and used from 6 am to 11 pm daily. They have a 20 km/h speed limit under the e-scooter by-law and are not allowed on sidewalks, National Capital Commission pathways or in the City of Gatineau. E-scooters may be walked on to the O-Train in 2021.
Riders of shared e-scooters must agree in the app to not ride on sidewalks, to follow the rules and to park e-scooters upright in the sidewalk furniture zone, beside the curb, in line with trees and benches, before the vehicle can be unlocked. The app also provides COVID-19 handwashing and physical distancing messaging consistent with OPH guidance.
Shared e-scooters use “dockless” technology, meaning there are no physical stations and the e-scooters can be picked up and dropped off anywhere in the area of operation. E-scooter providers employ geofencing technology to slow the machines to a crawl and prevent them from being parked in areas that are off limits.