Nashville considers banning e-scooters as Calgary, Edmonton prepare to welcome them

City councillors in Nashville, Tenn., are considering banning the same electric kick scooters that Calgary and Edmonton are preparing to welcome to city streets and pathways soon.

What began with one company quickly became seven in Nashville, renting some 4,000 dockless scooters

Someone rides a Bird electric scooter ridden in Salt Lake City. The company says it hopes to roll out the scooters in Canada as early as in July, starting with Calgary and Edmonton. (The Associated Press)

City councillors in Nashville, Tenn., are considering banning the same electric kick scooters that Calgary and Edmonton are preparing to welcome to city streets and pathways soon.

The dockless e-scooters are being brought to Alberta by the company Bird Canada.

The company has stated that Calgary and Edmonton are their test markets, intended to be a launching point for expansion of of their "commuter solutions" across the country. 

Bird Canada CEO Stewart Lyons told CBC that Calgarians could expect to see the scooters in the city in July. Once in full force, the fleet is expected to be somewhere between 500 and 1,000 strong in each city.

Nashville home to 4,000+ scooters

But as the Alberta cities ready for this new transportation method, city council in Nashville is contemplating how to rein in the chaos they say has emerged since the scooters rolled into town.

What started with one company offering scooter rentals quickly turned into seven companies, causing the number of rentable scooters there to balloon to more than 4,000. 

"In May of last year, Bird scooters came to Nashville in an asking-for-forgiveness-instead-of-permission kind of way. And they were popular but we didn't have any kind of regulations in place for them," said Jeremy Elrod, a Nashville city councillor. 

While the city has since managed to get regulations in place to govern the e-scooters, they are now struggling to find a way to enforce those rules as they've found their police force isn't prepared to deal with the additional demand.

In the case of Nashville, council is looking at charging some of the enforcement costs back to the companies providing the service. 

The importance of enforcement and safety came into focus after a 26-year-old man was killed in May after being struck by a car while riding one of the scooters while under the influence of alcohol, as reported by The Tennessean

'It just seems like litter on the streets'

In addition safety concerns, the scooters are also causing some other issues.

"Unfortunately, they're being ridden on the sidewalks or blocking sidewalks," Elrod said. "It's just the sheer volume, the number of scooters on the street has created a big backlash where it just seems like litter on the streets when they're all piled up on the streets by the end of the day."

The city has tried designating preferred parking zones as well as no-parking areas, but ultimately that was to no avail, Elrod said. 

"So we're looking at how to take a pause and revamp them. Either a temporary ban of them or getting them off the streets, or cutting [the number of them] in half and then redoing our regulations," Elrod told the Calgary Eyeopener

Bird Canada: 'That won't be an issue for us'

When Lyons was asked about some of the problems that have been seen in other cities, he said he did not anticipate any problems in Alberta. 

"That won't be an issue for us. Nowadays, what Bird typically does and what we will do, we have full-time people who go out in the middle of the day or late at night and move the scooters around. Back in the day, they didn't do that," Lyons said last week. 

While e-scooters could not previously legally operate in the province, the Alberta Ministry of Transportation has now granted an exemption for shared electric scooters. 

"We have been approached by multiple companies that are interested in operating shared electric scooters in Calgary," said Nathan Carswell, the shared mobility program manager for the City of Calgary. 

"As part of this, we are also considering what the use of shared electric scooters would look like in our city, including where they would be allowed to operate."

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.

With files from The Canadian Press


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