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E-scooters return to Ottawa, with new rules for government-approved fun

A woman wearing a helmet rides an e-scooter over a footbridge in Ottawa. (Photo via Neuron Mobility)

Electric scooters are back in Ottawa, now with extra regulations and technology improvements ostensibly intended to make them less of a nuisance.

The City of Ottawa has selected two companies (Bird Canada and Neuron Mobility) to operate the scooters for this season. The season will be phased-in, starting this week with a few neighbourhoods before expanding to a wider area.

An end to sidewalk riding?

In the past two years of the e-scooter pilot, there were many complaints about sidewalk riding, plus scooters parked in an obstructing way. This season, the city and companies are touting that better technology should reduce this problem. For example, Neuron says several proprietary technologies (including aptly-named High Accuracy Location Technology, or HALT) on their scooters will allow a higher degree of control over usage.

“Using these technologies, Neuron can detect and control sidewalk riding, provide high accuracy geofencing, and designate precise smart parking locations, providing unprecedented control over these aspects of the program,” says a press release. Neuron says the geofence is based on mapping data provided by the City of Ottawa and can be tweaked if necessary as the season progresses. “Neuron will be working closely with the City to address any gaps, updates and continuous improvement and optimization to guide the successful implementation of the new and unprecedented level of device technology supporting the e-scooter program.”

Some of the other notable changes this year:

  • There will be 900 scooters, instead of 1,200 like last year.
  • E-scooters will feature a continuous warning sound to alert pedestrians to their approach.
  • Rides can be started from 6 a.m. through 11 p.m.
  • Speaking of parking, you’ll only be able to end scooter rides if you’ve left the device in a city-approved parking spot, which will be shown in the phone apps. “If an e-scooter is improperly parked, the rider will continue to be charged a fee until it is properly parked or retrieved by the provider,” the city says in a press release. “Providers have also implemented fines and will remove users from their app who disregard the local rules, including sidewalk riding and improper parking.”
  • There’s a new reporting form on the city’s website to make it easier for residents to report issues related to usage of scooters. Both scooter company staff and dedicated by-law officers will patrol usage areas to keep an eye on things.
  • When a report about an improperly-parked scooter is received, the companies will have 15 minutes to remove it.

E-scooters will be on the road until November 15. Here’s more info via the city…

Author

Devyn Barrie

Devyn Barrie is the publisher and editor of OttawaStart.com. He currently studies math and physics at the University of Ottawa, and has previously studied journalism and pre-technology (separately) at Algonquin College.