When the e-scooters return to Calgary’s streets this spring, there may also be e-bikes on offer.
Following a successful, two-year electric scooter pilot, the city plans to leverage public interest in scooters to bring bike sharing back to Calgary.
The city is in the process of taking bids from companies to provide Calgary with e-scooter service. At least five companies are in the running.
But to limit problems with scooter parking, it will only select two companies and each will be allowed to put up to 750 scooters on the street.
In hopes of getting the companies to offer bike shares, the city is willing to increase that cap so they can earn sufficient revenue from scooters to help pay for e-bikes.
No public funding
The committee’s chair, Coun. Jeff Davison, said it’s a good plan because it would bring bike sharing back to Calgary.
And unlike other cities which have had to subsidize that service, Calgary could get e-bikes without any public funding.
“If we can incentivize some of the rideshare/scooter companies to potentially look at more scooters on the streets, if they can address parking, if they can address those concerns we’re hearing, if they can integrate with transit better, then bring bikes along with it. I think that’s a great option for Calgarians,” said Davison.
At least two companies competing to get the approval to operate scooters in Calgary, Bird and Lime Canada, told city council’s transportation committee on Wednesday they are interested in the city’s offer.
Lime did offer bike share a couple of years ago but found there wasn’t enough support to keep it financially viable and the bikes were pulled off the street.
The government relations director with Lime Canada, Jonathan Hopkins, said the company is investing $50 million globally on e-bike expansion with plans to move into 25 cities.
“This approach in Calgary can ensure that Calgary is one of those 25 cities,” said Hopkins.
“What’s innovative about this approach is that Calgary can get for free what other cities have spent millions on.”
A vice president with Bird Canada, Chris Schafer, told the committee that his company will be bidding to provide e-scooter service and that it also supports Calgary’s plan which would make bike share possible.
Scooters may have late return
The city hopes to have a decision on the two winning e-scooter companies sometime in May.
Until that decision is made, the scooters won’t be on the streets.
Coun. Davison said given some good weather, that timing is a concern.
“A number of members of council have heard from members of the public that they’d like these options sooner,” said Davison.
“We’d like an option to potentially look at fast tracking scooters and bike share back into the public, given we’ve got such warm weather happening right now.”