Since the inception of the e-scooter pilot program in the city at the beginning of July, Team Leader of Transit Chris MacIsaac said there has been an 'evolution' in terms of education and attitudes from the city's residents. He said that at this point he would describe the pilot program as highly successful due to the observed change in behaviours from both users and residents.
"When the program launched in early July, I think it was a change for some residents and they had some concerns regarding parking and usage of the program," he said. "I'd say that there was about a two-week period of time where we were receiving two or three concerns per day from residents."
However, since then, he has observed the number of inquiries and concerns has plateaued.
"I think we're down to approximately one concern a day [and] I think that's a testament of people becoming a little more used to seeing scooters in our community. I also feel as though the riders of the e-scooters are being more considerate to other users on the pathways and sidewalks. They are becoming more educated and aware of how their behaviours impact others, and it's working out much better."
MacIsaac said that the most common complaints from residents were related to e-scooters being parked crossways on sidewalks and pathways, which was impeding the movement of other people.
"The other issue that we had was that people were ending their trip in front of a private residence, blocking a sidewalk or driveway. We work closely with both the service providers, Neuron and Bird Canada to beef up the amount of awareness and education for the riders not to do that."
MacIsaac said that there were also inquiries as to what cost the city incurred.
"At this point, other than my time to oversee the program and staff time to review the governance and administration of the program, the city's invested zero of our own dollars. We've reinvested the money that was taken in as part of the licensing agreements to provide public education and awareness for the program. In essence, this is a net zero cost back to the municipality and to taxpayers and it's provided opportunities for residents to use an alternative mode of transportation during a very dry summer."
Though MacIsaac himself does prefer cycling to scooting, he did admit, that he enjoyed his time on the e-scooters.
"I enjoy the physical activity aspect of riding a bike, so, the e-scooter is a change for me because I'm so used to working to get to my end destination. In some ways, it provides an opportunity for me to show up at my final destination, perhaps not dehydrated or looking for some shade to cool off," MacIsaac said. "They're a nice little way to get out and enjoy the pathways and sidewalks here in the community."
As the first year of the two-year pilot project draws to a close, he said that the city will be working closely with both Neuron and Bird Canada to look at opportunities to improve the program next year.
"[We] anticipate a report back to [city] council either late this year or early 2023, with potential changes to the program, including potential changes to some of our bylaws from 2022. I know the top of mind for the city council and residents is public safety."
The two-year pilot program was approved by the Airdrie City Council on June 6, 2022. The pilot will run through to the end of October 2023.
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