E-scooters roll into Windsor as pilot project moves forward

The 'low-cost' transportation devices will be placed throughout an area bounded by the riverfront pathway, Prince, Tecumseh and Drouillard Roads.

Mobile app required to find, register and pay for e-scooter rental

Taking one of Windsor's new e-scooters for a spin? Here's what you should know

2 years ago
Duration 1:27
E-scooters are now scattered across the city, available to hop on and off for the next year as part of a pilot project. So what do you need to know about e-scooting? The CBC's Jacob Barker took one out for a spin.

Windsor's e-scooter pilot program is off and running, following Bird Canada's announcement that 500 Bird Two e-scooters are now available for use in the region.

Last year, city council greenlit the pilot to move ahead for 12 months but it faced delays due to the pandemic. The e-scooters, however, are now available "as a low-cost way to get around," Bird Canada said in a release.

Boundaries have been defined regarding where someone can pick up an e-scooter in Windsor: the riverfront to the north, Prince Road to the west, Tecumseh Road to the south and Drouillard Road to the east.

"Bird Canada has hired a local team to manage the roll-out of its e-scooters and educate users on how to properly, responsibly, and safely ride and mindfully park e-scooters. All e-scooters deployed for this pilot will feature Windsor-specific branding," the company said.

Riders must download the Bird app on their smartphone to find the nearest e-scooter. Safety and parking guidelines are provided, along with a tutorial on how to use the scooter.

The company adds riders can request a free helmet to be sent to them through the app.

"Riders are requested to park e-scooters in the furniture zone of the sidewalk, out of the public right of way, in line with benches, trees, and bike racks without blocking pedestrian travel," said Bird Canada.

This screenshot from the Bird Canada app shows where e-scooters can be picked up and used in Windsor during this 12-month pilot project. (Bird Canada)

"Some areas within the City of Windsor are designated as Slow Zones (15km/h) or No Park Zones, as directed by the City of Windsor."

But while Windsor has decided to go forward with an e-scooter pilot program, a committee of Toronto's city council wants nothing to do with them — citing risk of injury, especially to people with disabilities.

Pricing for the e-scooters starts at $1.15 and costs 35 cents for every minute of use.

E-scooters will travel at a maximum speed limit of 20 km per hour, and riding will be prohibited on sidewalks...- Bird Canada

"When they're allowed to be left lying around or tied to poles on sidewalks, they become a tripping hazard for blind people like me" said David Lepofsky, chair of the Access for Ontarians with Disability Act Alliance.

Lepofsky calls e-scooters a "silent menace," adding that riders are "unlicensed, untrained and uninsured." In fact, a Toronto city staff report released last year flagged concerns about safety standards and a lack of enforcement resources.

"I won't know until they hit me because they're silent and I can't identify who hit me so they can be prosecuted. So it's essentially the Wild West," Lepofsky added.

Speed is also a major concern for the alliance. Bikes make a clicking sound that help alert nearby pedestrians when they're coming close, but e-scooters are much quieter, according to Lepofsky.

A man wearing a white button-up shirt with a black patterned cardigan sweater looks directly at the camera.
David Lepofsky, a disability rights advocate, says e-scooters can pose as tripping hazards to people who are blind and riders may bump into pedestrians since they can be fairly quiet at 20 km/h. (Tina Mackenzie/CBC)

"That applies not only to us blind folks, but any sighted person who doesn't have eyes on the back of their head and who doesn't want to be hit from behind by a joyrider racing at 20 kilometers an hour with no training on how to ride the motor vehicle they're driving."

But Bird Canada said it's keeping safety top of mind as this pilot project moves ahead, "following the broad rules and requirements set out by the Province, including a minimum age of 16 years, required helmet use by riders under 18, and e-scooters equipped with a bell, brake, and lights."

"Bird Canada e-scooters will travel at a maximum speed limit of 20 km per hour, and riding will be prohibited on sidewalks, but permitted on all city-owned cycling facilities, multi-use pathways, footbridges, and on roads with speed limits of up to 50 km/hour," the company said.

"For Windsor's waterfront pathways, all e-scooters will be capped at 15 km/h."

With files from Jacob Barker