Alexander Lobkov rides an e-scooter on the Ross Street patio. Downtown business owners say electric scooters are bringing more customers to the city centre. (File photo by Advocate staff)

Alexander Lobkov rides an e-scooter on the Ross Street patio. Downtown business owners say electric scooters are bringing more customers to the city centre. (File photo by Advocate staff)

E-scooters a boost for downtown Red Deer businesses

Electronic scooters were a big boost for downtown Red Deer businesses this summer.

“The e-scooters had a positive impact immediately,” said Brandon Bouchard, Tribe restaurant manager.

“The day after they arrived, we saw an increase in revenue and people exploring the downtown.”

E-scooters were introduced to Red Deer earlier this summer, with six companies bringing more than 1,500 e-scooters to the city this past summer. Those companies are Bird Canada, Neuron, Roll Scooters, Link Scooters, Spin and Lime according to the city website.

In May 2021, Red Deer city council approved the implementation of a two-year e-scooter pilot project. Scooters will be collected and taken off the road after Oct. 31. The 2022 season then starts March 15.

“The nice thing about those scooters is they were a novelty for people to come downtown to try them out. In the process, they would end up discovering businesses and restaurants they may not have discovered otherwise because they weren’t venturing downtown before,” said Bouchard.

“Over the course of the summer, it’s been kind of non-stop. On any given day you’ll find scooters parked in front of restaurants and in front of bars.”

The e-scooters create a great opportunity to bring in new customers, Bouchard added.

“Our hope is that this continues. … We definitely hope they’re here to stay, for sure,” he said, adding business was better this summer compared to the summer of 2020.

“There was definitely an increase. With our business on the weekend, if you weren’t making a reservation, you weren’t getting in. I know the businesses neighbouring us were quite busy all summer long.”

Catherine Robb, owner of Housewarmings gift store, said the e-scooters boosted her business this summer as well.

“I saw lots of business with them. It brought people downtown and I loved everything about them,” she said.

“Nowadays for youth to buy a car it’s an outrageous price, with insurance and everything. A lot of them can’t afford to drive and if they don’t want to take the bus, this is a great way to get downtown.”

It wasn’t just young people she saw riding the e-scooters.

“Even families would ride them. I would see moms and dads with their kids – instead of taking the car, they all come down on scooters,” she said.

Robb and Bouchard admit business has been slower since provincial restrictions were reintroduced in September.