London

Move over bikes, e-scooters might be coming to London

On Tuesday, the civic works committee will be looking at a report from staff requesting that a 250 e-scooter pilot project be added to a planned bike share program. 

In addition to an e-scooter pilot project, the city is adding bike lockers in the core

Under provincial rules, electric scooters, two-wheeled with a deck for the rider to stand on while holding a handle, can only travel at a maximum of 24 km/h and will have to have a horn or a bell as well as lights on the front and back along with reflective material. (Jeenah Moon/Reuters)

E-scooters may become the new way for you to get around the city's downtown.

On Tuesday, the civic works committee will be looking at a report from city staff requesting that a 250 e-scooter pilot project be added to London's proposed bike share program. 

Since the beginning of 2020, municipalities in Ontario have had the option to pass bylaws to approve if and where e-scooters can be used and parked thanks to a five-year provincial pilot project.

"Introducing the concept of e-scooters provides another option, within a menu of options, for getting around and it allows Londoners to really take action on our declared climate emergency," said Allison Miller, the city's transportation demand management coordinator. 

"People can very easily replace those short trips they would normally jump in the car for and not think about, particularly in the central area of London."

Personal transportation has become the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in London and Miller said this is an opportunity to alleviate that.

In London's Climate Emergency Action Plan, the city set a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30 per cent by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050.

Under provincial rules, electric scooters, two-wheeled with a deck for the rider to stand on while holding a handle, can only travel at a maximum of 24 km/h and will have to have a horn or a bell, lights on the front and back, as well as reflective material. Riders must be at least 16 years old and those under 18 must wear a helmet. Passengers and cargo are not allowed.

Miller said an e-scooter share system would allow Londoners to rent a motorized scooter for short-term, point-to-point trips and then drop it off at one of several designated spots that would be established in the core. 

"Potentially, you would walk or get yourself to a location where the e-scooters are parked by using your phone or an app to find them. Then you unlock the scooter and ride it for your short trip and then you get to drop it off in a different location than where you picked it up," she explained.  

E-scooters have become popular across North America in recent years and several cities across the country have adopted their use. In Ontario, cities like Mississauga and Hamilton have approved e-scooters for personal use, while Ottawa has also established a share system. 

Accessibility advocates have raised the alarm about dockless e-scooters saying they pose a barrier and danger to those with limited mobility or sight.

If approved in London, Miller said the first phase of the project would be concentrated in the city's core. 

Before that happens, Miller said the city will be seeking feedback from the community.

According to the report, a proposed e-scooter use bylaw could come to council by summer or early Fall of 2021. Then, if approved by council, the shared bike and e-scooter pilot project could potentially launch later this year or early next year.

Bike lockers coming to downtown

Meanwhile, Londoners fearing their bike might get stolen in the core, can breathe a sigh of relief. 

The city has purchased nine bike lockers as part of a pilot project to provide a secure place for people to store their bikes and prevent theft. 

"If, for example, you work downtown and you want somewhere secure to to park your bike, you can access a locker," said Miller. "And, some of the lockers are meant for short-term parking, so if you're going to the library or a restaurant and want a secure place to park your bike." 

Miller said the spots meant for longer use will be available on a monthly rental basis.

The bike lockers are set to prevent theft, deter causal vandalism and provide weather protection. (City of London/Cycle Safe)

Three sets of lockers, fitting six bikes each, are set to be installed in downtown London this spring. 

One of the lockers will be located in the parking garage of the Covent Garden Market, another will be located in the north-east corner of Dundas and Wellington streets and the third will be in a location closer to Richmond Row and Victoria Park. 

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