Skip to content

Company that had e-scooters in Red Deer, Blackfalds, Lacombe goes under

Roll Technologies Inc. operating in Red Deer since 2021
Roll Technologies Inc. is pulling its e-scooters from Blackfalds. (Photo courtesy of Roll Scooters)

A company that provided e-scooters to several central Alberta communities including Red Deer has gone out of business.

Roll Technologies Inc. director of operations Joshua Leach confirmed the company’s bankruptcy in an email on Monday, saying the CEO and owner was “unable to obtain funding from any source to make it into the new year.

“We have pulled out of all communities and are no longer in operations,” he wrote.

Roll co-founder Richard Cao was a University of Toronto graduate and entrepreneur when he started the company and in 2019 reached a deal with Kelowna, B.C. to offer e-scooters. It was believed to be the first city in Canada to welcome a program for e-scooters, which soared in popularity world-wide in 2018 as GPS tracking systems for rentals and lithium battery technology improved.

Red Deer announced a two-year pilot project in 2021 and half a dozen companies, including Roll, were soon offering e-scooters. Roll expanded to Lacombe and Blackfalds in 2022 after securing exclusive rights to offer its bright yellow e-scooters in pilot projects in the two communities.

Blackfalds chief administrative officer Myron Thompson told council at a recent meeting that Roll had sent a letter thanking the town for its support while announcing it would not continue operating in Blackfalds.

“As a small player in the shared scooter industry, we’ve had to make the tough decision to halt our operations in Blackfalds,” said the letter.

“Despite our best efforts, we haven’t been able to secure the necessary funding to continue our operations and unfortunately we won’t be able to provide our service to the community.”

Coun. Marina Appel asked what the implications were for the town on the e-scooter front given the exclusive agreement with Roll.

“It seems as if this would open us up to have a contract with a different e-scooter supplier,” she said.

Thompson said the town’s economic development officer will now be looking into finding other companies that could provide e-scooter service this summer.

Roll had hoped to link Red Deer, Blackfalds and Lacombe with charging stations available at key locations so riders did not get stranded. In Alberta, Roll also operated in Calgary, Cochrane and St. Albert, according to its website.

E-scooters have proven popular in Red Deer. Red Deer e-scooter users rode about 74,000 kms in 2022 — almost twice around the world — and the average trip was the second longest in Canada at 3.87 kms, according to e-scooter company Bird Canada.

News tips

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Paul Cowley

About the Author: Paul Cowley

Paul grew up in Brampton, Ont. and began his journalism career in 1990 at the Alaska Highway News in Fort. St. John, B.C.
Read more