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Surrey, Mississauga latest cities to launch e-bike programs

by Ibrahim Daair, Municipal World
in Sustainability, Technology, Transportation
June, 2024

More cities across Canada are adding e-bikes to their public transportation networks. In late April, Surrey, B.C., and Mississauga, Ont., became two of the latest cities to make e-bikes and e-scooters available.

The bikes and scooters are operated by Bird Canada, which provides e-bike and scooter rentals through their app. The company launched operations in Surrey on April 24 as part of the city’s two-year pilot project. Bird Canada says it is introducing 300 e-bikes gradually. The bikes are available to rent in locations across the city’s downtown and Guilford areas.

In Mississauga, Bird Canada is set to launch 450 e-scooters and 150 e-bikes. The company is already operating in other Ontario cities like Hamilton, Ottawa, and Windsor.

“We are very excited to bring our industry-leading, sustainable transportation solutions to the people of Surrey and Cranbrook in British Columbia, Lethbridge in Alberta, and Mississauga in Ontario,” said Stewart Lyons, Bird Canada CEO. “We’re certain they will adopt micromobility solutions with the same exuberance as millions of other Canadians across the country.”

Expanding Mobility Options

In addition, Cranbrook, B.C., and Lethbridge, Atla., are also launching e-scooter programs.  In Lethbridge, Bird Canada has recently been granted an exclusive permit for 300 e-scooters and 200 e-bikes. The company says that Cranbrook’s e-scooter program will be announced soon.

On May 1, Nanaimo, B.C., also launched its own e-bike pilot. The city has partnered with the BCAA’s Evolve E-Bike Share program. “We’re thrilled to expand Evolve E-Bike Share to Nanaimo, with further plans to reach more communities across the Island,” said Leanne Buhler, Head of Evolve at BCAA.

Evolve is make 100 e-bikes available this year, starting in the city’s downtown, Old Quarter and key commercial and residential areas. The plan is to expand to include more areas including Vancouver Island University and the ferry terminals.

“The launch of the Evolve E-Bike Share program marks a significant step forward in our city’s journey toward sustainable transportation solutions,” said Mayor Leonard Krog. “By providing residents with accessible and eco-friendly mobility options, we are not only reducing our carbon footprint but also enhancing the overall livability of Nanaimo.”

E-Scooters Finding a Role

Cranbrook’s program is part of a broader pilot introduced by the B.C. government in 2021. Municipal pilots need to meet the requirements of the BC Electric Kick Scooter Pilot Regulation. That means a lot of work and planning needs to be done before residents can start using the scooters.

“On the city’s side, there will be public safety and route planning required, along with co-ordinating appropriate parking areas, identifying slow and no-ride zones, and making changes to some of our bylaws before this new e-Scooter service can get off the ground,” says Katelyn Pocha, Project Manager for the City of Cranbrook.

The pilot is expected to operate from June until mid-November 2024 for the first year of the program. Scooters will be available 24 hours a day throughout the week.

“City council is very excited to be considered for this pilot program for Cranbrook, that has proven to be successful in other areas,” said Mayor Wayne Price.

The provincial government says the pilot programs are part of broader plan to encourage people to use electric vehicles and reduce emissions.

“E-scooters are part of an ongoing shift toward electric personal mobility that’s reducing emissions by giving people new clean and affordable options to get around,” said B.C. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Rob Fleming. “We’re making it easier for local governments to test e-scooters on their own roads, so we can ensure future regulations represent the needs of people across the province.”

Coquitlam Coun. Trish Mandewo, who is also president of the Union of BC Municipalities, said the use of e-scooters for personal transportation is growing in communities across B.C.

“Local governments have asked the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to work with them to ensure that appropriate regulation is in place and will welcome the findings the pilot projects will yield,” Mandewo said. “UBCM appreciates this collaborative and constructive effort to address a critical shift in public transportation.”

Cities Open Up to E-Scooters

E-scooters have been in Canadian cities for some years now.

Calgary was the first to bring in scooters in 2019, and more cities are planning to follow suit. Vancouver is taking steps toward having a public e-scooter program. In February, Vancouver council approved bylaw amendments to allow e-scooters to be operated in the city. The city’s park board has also tweaked its rules to allow e-bikes and scooters on certain cycling paths in parks.

Private rentals are already allowed, but the park board wants to create its own program to make using e-scooters more affordable for more people. A report presented to the park board in April noted that between three and 11 per cent of transportation trips in the city are now done using scooters.

“Since the start of the provincial pilot in 2021, the use of e-scooters continues to increase,” noted the report.

Expanding use of e-bikes and scooters is part of the city’s broader 30-year plan to improve transit, connectivity and access to amenities in Vancouver.

“The city has been actively promoting sustainability and reductions in carbon emissions through bold targets, including having two-thirds of trips in Vancouver made by active transportation and transit by 2030,” the report said.  MW

✯ Municipal World Executive and Essentials Plus Members: You might also be interested in Ibrahim Daair’s article: Love them or hate them, e-scooters are on the way.

Ibrahim Daair is staff writer at Municipal World.

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