Broken rules, no tickets: E-scooter scofflaws frustrate Edmontonians

One month after e-scooters resurfaced on Edmonton streets and paths, business owners in busy retail areas say riders continue to break the rules without any enforcement. 

The City of Edmonton hasn’t handed out any tickets or formal warnings yet this year, a spokesperson told CBC News Tuesday.

Gayle Martin, owner of The Wish List Gifts on Whyte Avenue near 105th Street, said she sees people riding on the sidewalk, doubling up, and riding while impaired. 

“It’s become unsafe and not fun to walk around,” Martin told CBC News. 

“I can’t walk my dog down here anymore and a lot of people can’t walk their dogs down here anymore because the scooters are so fast and they come up behind them and they scare them.”

She said some customers don’t like going to the Old Strathcona area in the evening because of the scooters. 

“It’s kind of like a little bit of mayhem,” Martin said. “Sometimes I feel like I’m going home at nine o’clock and it’s the purge out there … because there’s just nobody following any rules.”

The rules are written on scooters themselves, outlined in the app that people must use for the service, and included on city’s website.

Coun. Ben Henderson said riding scooters on crowded sidewalks is dangerous for pedestrians. 

“I just don’t see any compliance,” Henderson said. “How people cannot understand at this point that they shouldn’t be on the sidewalk is beyond me.” 

“If we can’t sort it out then maybe we can’t have the scooters,” he said. 

Time to ticket

Henderson suggested that bylaw officers should start giving out tickets and warnings for infractions. 

“I think if we gave out a few tickets, word would spread very fast.”

City spokesperson Sarah Giourmetakis said peace officers have not issued any tickets or formal warnings in the past month related to e-scooter use even though “some people are upset with people riding scooters on sidewalks and parking in places which block sidewalks and doors.”

E-scooter companies are responsible for communicating and informing users on how to ride them properly, Giourmetakis said. 

Three companies, three years

Three companies now operate in Edmonton — Lime, Bird and Spin, the newest kid on the e-scooter block. 

Lime is licensed for 2,000 scooters and Bird is licensed for 1,000. Spin said it has 400 machines in Edmonton. The city said it is licensed for 1,000.

In an email to CBC News, Spin said it’s taking steps to create a safer riding environment, with slow zones along Jasper Avenue and Whyte Avenue where the scooters can’t exceed 13 km/h. 

The company has set up no-ride zones around MacEwan University and parkland preservation areas. 

Every machine says “no sidewalk riding,” with safety protocols listed on the app and the company’s website. 

“We plan regular safety events where we give away free helmets and hand sanitizer and also educate riders on safe riding practices,” a Spin spokesperson wrote in an email. “During these safety events we also reinforce that sidewalk riding is prohibited.”

Lime said it’s adding large “licence plates” to e-scooters so people can report misbehaviour.

Puneeta McBryan, executive director of the Downtown Business Association, said the speed cap on Jasper Avenue has helped, though some are still breaking the rules and “the city has taken a relatively hands-off approach to enforcement.”

Mayor Don Iveson said he’s heard the concerns and plans to speak to the city manager this week about possible recourse.

@natashariebe

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