Electronic scooter rental company Bird Canada has not landed in Red Deer, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.
CEO Stewart Lyons said smaller markets are tougher. A city of 100,000 is the minimum population that could be considered.
“The one good thing about Red Deer is we’re in Calgary. We’re hopefully going to be in Edmonton shortly. Red Deer is on the highway,” said Lyons.
“We might be able to make some things work. But we’d have to look at it and chiefly figure out what we could service out of either Edmonton or Calgary, and how to allocate scooters. But we’d definitely take a look at it, for sure.”
The 2019 census pegged Red Deer’s population at 101,002.
So far, there have been no business applications made to the City of Red Deer for the operation of an e-scooter rental company.
Two companies introduced e-scooters to Calgary this summer — Bird Canada and Lime. That city is testing the viability of shared electric scooters as part of a 16-month pilot program.
E-scooters are touted as a way to reduce traffic congestion and carbon emissions, while providing people with a safe, affordable and environmentally friendly alternative to cars.
Bird operates in more than 100 cities internationally. Calgary is the only Canadian city so far.
Lyons said between Bird and Lime, people in Calgary have taken about 150,000 rides this summer.
“We’ve had great take up. We’ve only been in the market about two and a half weeks. Feedback has been really good. We’re pretty pumped. We’re excited to try Edmonton next and Montreal is also on the docket.”
He said Bird has an application with the City of Edmonton and is just waiting to hear back.
“We’re ready to say go as soon as they say go.”
He said Calgary riders seem to be enjoying scooters for shorter rides.
“If you’re going that five-kilometres trip, taking a scooter seems to be a fun and economically reasonable, environmentally friendly way to get around.”
Bird is focused on safety, he said, and held a safety day last week and gave away 150 free helmets while educating people about scooter use.
In Calgary, e-scooter riders using a shared service must be at least 18 years old. They are allowed to ride on pathways, bike lanes and sidewalks. Only one rider is allowed per scooter, and helmets are encouraged.
Lyons said only a handful of complaints have been received when it comes to riders leaving the scooters in the way on sidewalks or elsewhere. The city gives Bird two hours to move a wayward scooter.
“To date, we’ve had one call. By the time we got the call from the city, we had already moved the scooter.”