Roll Scooters, an E-Scooter company based out of Toronto, launched in Red Deer on Thursday. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

E-scooters launch in Red Deer

Electric scooters have arrived in Red Deer.

Roll Scooters, a Canadian company that launched in March 2019 and is in three other cities across the country, brought scooters to Red Deer Thursday.

The Toronto-based company is part of a pilot project that the city announced in May. The pilot that started Thursday will run until October 31, 2023 for the summer months. Through public feedback and data collection, the city will determine whether and under what circumstances e-scooters will be permitted to continue operating after the pilot ends.

“We are very excited,” said Arda Ertürk, chief communications officer, Roll Scooters.

Ertürk said they have been in talks with the city since earlier this year about how the project will work and what needs to happen in order to make the launch successful.

“We started our engagement this year and we’re happy to see Red Deer is participating in the scooter pilot,” he said.

For the trial period, e-scooters will only be permitted to be used on paved trails and sidewalks in Red Deer and not on roadways or bike lanes. E-scooters will also not be permitted at City Hall Park, skate parks, on city buses, inside the Sorensen Station Transit terminal or outside city limits.

Roll Scooters was set to bring between 200-300 scooters to Red Deer. Riders will need to download the app and find an available scooter for their trip. Once they scan the QR code, the scooter is unlocked and people are good to ride. When the trip is over, they need to send a photo of the parked scooter.

Ertürk said at first, the company expects many of the trips to be “joy rides” but down the line, they tend to turn into a more reliable transportation option.

“Initially, we will see a lot of rides in the first few days, even in the first few weeks that are mostly joy rides because people are getting familiar, they want to try them,” he said.

“After a few weeks or months, we will see more transportation-focused trips and that’s what we’ve seen from other jurisdictions.”

The company launched its first fleet in Kelowna in May of 2019 and in 2020, they expanded to Calgary and Ottawa. In Kelowna, there are 1,700 e-scooter trips per day among the different companies.

“It’s been going really well, the feedback that we got from our riders is excellent. They really like the scooters and a lot of riders are using the scooters as a mode of transportation. They go grocery shopping or use scooters for running errands,” he said.

As for safety, Ertürk said 99.9 per cent of Roll Scooter trips are injury-free, something that was a major factor in their design. Roll Scooter’s CEO, Richard Cao has family connections in China that helped the company build their product.

“We designed and developed the most durable, sturdiest, safest e-scooter model in the market and so far, riders are really satisfied with the product in terms of safety and the riding experience,” Ertürk said.

Ertürk noted that typically, the scooters will max out at 20 km/h.

“There are more than 70 sensors inside to make sure people are riding properly. We detect skid riding and other bad behaviour through those sensors. We also have GPS sensors, so we track all the scooters,” he said.

In addition to those features, the company also believes in equitability. Health care workers can get free rides and those on income support will be eligible for discounted rides. They also have “Roll Cards” for purchase that can be redeemed without the need for a debit or credit card.

And with the province pushing to have more individuals get the COVID-19 vaccine, Roll Scooters is offering free rides to anyone attending a vaccine appointment.

Red Deerians looking to try a Roll Scooter can use the promo code RollRedDeer to get 10 per cent off on their first trip.

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