The City of St. Albert will tweak its e-scooter pilot in an effort to limit e-scooter clutter around the city, council heard Monday.
Feedback the City received from the first leg of the pilot — which launched in September — was mixed, with several residents critiquing the number of e-scooters left behind on trails and sidewalks.
While the pilot only mandated that e-scooter parking be restricted to boulevards, Coun. Sheena Hughes brought forward a motion to add preferred and designated parking zones and no-park zones as the pilot continues.
Preferred parking zones are digital parking areas embedded in the e-scooter app’s map. While not mandatory, the zones help guide riders to make better parking decisions through rewards such as ride credits.
Designated parking spots are similar, but use physical parking infrastructure in key city areas.
No-park zones are digitally marked areas that do not allow e-scooter riders to end their trip, making riders continue on to permitted areas where boulevard rules apply.
Specific pickup/drop off spots quashed
Hughes initially gave notice of a motion which would require 20 specific pickup and drop off locations for the e-scooters, which companies operating in St. Albert would share. After hearing feedback from Chris Schafer, vice-president of government affairs for Bird Canada, Hughes modified her motion to add parking options tested by other municipalities.
Schafer told council that requiring e-scooters to be parked only in specific pickup and drop off locations would make it difficult for riders to choose e-scooters over other modes of transportation.
For example, Schafer said riders would need to plan trips around whether a location will be nearby when they are done. Additionally, riders looking to hop on an e-scooter might have to travel lengths to a corral, and wouldn’t have certainty that an e-scooter would be available once they get there.
“All of that friction tells me I’m simply going to avoid these scooters and take a car,” Schafer said.
No municipalities in Canada currently operate with required pick up/drop off locations.
Pilot 'rushed to market': Hughes
When speaking to her motion to add preferred and designated parking zones, as well as no-park zones, Hughes argued that St. Albert’s pilot in its previous iteration was “rushed to market.”
“We didn’t put in the proper regulations that would allow it to be done more successfully,” Hughes said. “Right now, we’re just gearing up for chaos for another six months … and I’m hoping that we deserve to give our residents more than that.”
Coun. Natalie Joly noted St. Albert’s community growth and infrastructure standing committee — which is composed of Joly, Mayor Cathy Heron, Coun. Wes Brodhead, and Coun. Mike Killick — unanimously recommended the pilot continue as is after reviewing midway feedback.
“This motion effectively cancels the pilot and makes our data muddied while adding work for an administration that is already busy,” Joly said.
Brodhead argued that Hughes’s motion is “not that big of an ask.”
“It didn’t seem to bother the proponent to add these things in,” Brodhead said. “They would be the ones doing the work. I think this is a good add.”
The motion passed 4-3, with Hughes, Coun. Shelley Biermanski, Killick, and Brodhead in favour.
Hughes is planning on bringing other modifications to the pilot before council in early April, including changing mandatory response times for companies to pick up the e-scooters from 48 hours to one hour, and capping e-scooter companies participating in the pilot in 2022 to no more than four.
The e-scooter pilot is set to run until December 2022.