Edmonton e-scooter users could be cited for poor parking

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E-scooter riders could be in for a bad parking job when the vehicles return to Edmonton streets this spring.

The city hopes to reduce the number of poorly parked scooters blocking sidewalks this year by requiring businesses to penalize scofflaws and establishing more parking stalls and no-parking zones. The details are still being worked out as the city finalizes three-year contracts with the company or companies that will provide them, such as Bird or Lime.

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Jenny Albers, general supervisor of planning and permitting, said Thursday that Edmonton is also changing licensing fees by charging daily per-vehicle fees to the e-scooter companies, which should help curb parking issues and discourage overcrowding in some areas , while expanding areas where they can be found and used.

“This means fewer e-scooters and e-bikes blocking sidewalks and being left in random places. This will improve accessibility and aesthetics and ensure vehicles are available to riders in predictable locations,” she told city planning committee councilors.

There will also be more slow zones and parking or driving bans to reduce conflicts with pedestrians and cyclists. Parking will be available around some LRT stations and transit interchanges.

Companies are also being asked to encourage users to pick up or drop off scooters in areas the city has identified as underserved, such as low-income neighborhoods.

Ward Karhiio Coun. Keren Tang said she has heard a lot of feedback in the past about people, or even the wind, knocking over e-scooters, making sidewalks impassable for people, including people who use wheelchairs.

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Some companies are developing technologies to solve some of these problems, she said. While the details of what tools the city’s provider will choose are not clear, solutions could look like voice-over alerts warning people not to drive on sidewalks or installing sensors to detect when they fall over.

“We heard a lot from the 5,000 survey responses and other forms of feedback that there are things that technology can address, and that there are things that Edmontonians can do and that the city can do,” she said.

“While they won’t necessarily be with the scooters this year, it’s something the industry at large is talking about.”

Number of passengers increased by 123 percent

E-scooters could be available by the May long weekend, months later than in several years before.

But when they arrive, more Edmontonians will likely take advantage of them.

Edmonton residents doubled the number of trips they made on e-scooters last year compared to the year before – about 1.06 million trips in 2023, according to a city report.

Although there are some problems, Tang said the increase in passengers is remarkable.

“I think this is all impressive interest and shows that there is a growing interest in using these types of vehicles,” she said.

“It’s clearly a mode of transportation that people have really chosen, but it doesn’t come without safety and accessibility concerns,” she said, adding that she’s glad to see the conversation about people switching to using different modes of transportation.

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