Kelowna's experiment with e-scooters a major summertime hit | Kelowna News | iNFOnews

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Kelowna's experiment with e-scooters a major summertime hit

Ogo Scooter co-owner Chris Szydloski.
September 08, 2019 - 6:00 AM

KELOWNA - While the City of Kelowna is still analyzing data collected from three e-scooter operators this year, it's clear the machines were very popular.

On average, each scooter was taken out six to nine times a day, Matt Worona the city’s active transportation coordinator, told iNFOnews.ca. With 100 machines operating, that means 600 to 900 rides per day.

The numbers haven’t been crunched on the average length of ride, but Worona expects it to be in the 15 to 25-minute range.

Ogo was the largest operator, with up to 60 scooters. They were joined by Bunny and Zip. Two other companies, Roll and Spin, also bought licences but did not operate.

The fact that the machines were “geofenced” to a limited area meant there were concerns raised about there being too many scooters along busy waterfront paths.

“We have automated pedestrian/bicycle counters,” Worona said. “The one counter closest to The Sails, that’s on Bernard, it hit 10,000 on Canada Day this year. Ten thousand people on one side of the street. One sidewalk. That’s a lot of people walking, a lot of people biking. There’s just natural conflict there.

“It’s not 100 vehicles (scooters) that are being used there that are creating this challenge. We often have thousands and thousands of people walking, biking, scooting, skating through those areas. All those conflicts compound each other. The scapegoat is always the newest thing.”

The key is to get the province to change the Motor Vehicle Act so scooters are allowed on roads and in bike lanes, as is the case in Calgary and some other cities, particularly in the United States, he said.

Kelowna is monitoring the use of the scooters and can tell such things as when they are in for maintenance. Some are more rugged than others so that affects the economics of each operation.

And, the permit rules require these three companies to keep operating at some level until the snow flies this fall or winter, even if they don’t have much ridership by then.

“Part of having a permit is being held to things that may not be 100 per cent profitable for the company,” Worona said.

As for whether riders use helmets or not, that’s not the city’s concern.

Ogo co-owner Chris Szydloski told iNFOnews.ca that the 120 helmets he bought this summer were gone in the first two weeks.

But, providing helmets to riders is not required. The city, however, does require one helmet to be “delivered” by each operator for each scooter.

What that can mean is giving the helmets away at a promotional event or sending helmets to people who sign up for the scooting app. The idea is to promote safety but, it’s clear, having six to nine people sharing a helmet each day is not feasible.

While there don’t seem to be any pedal or e-bikes on the horizon – Worona says companies are moving away from them because they have so many more components that can break down – the city is looking at more applications for its ride-sharing permits.


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