Ontario announces 5-year e-scooter pilot that lays legal groundwork for Bird and Lime

Municipalities have significant control over how e-scooters can legally be used

The Ontario government is launching a five-year e-scooter pilot program that allows municipalities to decide whether they want to allow e-scooters on their roads.

The pilot, announced by Vijay Thanigasalam, the parliamentary assistant to Caroline Mulroney, the Minister of Transportation, is set to start on January 1st 2020.

“Ontario’s five-year e-scooter pilot will give people a new, clean and green way to get from point A to point B in their communities,” said Thanigasalam. “This pilot is another way that our government is giving consumers more choice and making Ontario open for business.”

Cities have a significant amount of control regarding how e-scooters can be legally used, including whether to allow or prohibit them on roads, in parks and on trails. Municipalities can also dictate where e-scooter parking is located, and in general, how scooters are managed.

The five-year pilot requires that riders always wear a helmet and be a minimum of 16-years-old. All e-scooters also need to have a front and rear light, along with a horn or bell.

Bird Canada launched in Alberta in early July. The company is a division of Bird, which is co-owned by entrepreneur John Bitove, the co-founder of the Toronto Raptors, and Stewart Lyons, who launched SiriusXM Canada and is also a Mobilicity co-founder.

Regarding Toronto, Bird Canada’s e-scooter sharing platform also briefly ran a pilot project in the city’s Distillery District from September 5th to the 15th.

While e-scooters are a convenient, affordable form of last-mile transportation in major cities, the dockless nature of the transportation often results in sidewalks littered with e-scooters. Further, bike lanes are already a scarce commodity in large Canadian cities like Toronto. This means that that forcing bike riders share already crowded bike lanes with electric scooters will likely be a point of contention for many.

In total, e-scooters have been launched in over 125 U.S. cities, along with being piloted in areas of Quebec and Alberta.

Source: Ontario Government