San Francisco's Spin released hundreds of orange and black e-scooters into Old Strathcona and downtown Edmonton earlier this week as the company prepared to make its official debut in Canada this weekend.
Spin is offering free rides in celebration of its launch on April 17, and will also offer healthcare workers rides at no charge for a limited time. It joins fellow scooter companies Lime and Bird on the streets.
Meanwhile, the Downtown Business Association (DBA) is transforming 104th Street between Jasper and 102nd Avenue into a roomy weekend pedestrian patio area.
Both events are aiming to get people outside as the weather warms up. The DBA is also hoping to offset the closure of indoor dining, which was shut down as part of Alberta’s return to Step 1 of its reopening plan earlier this month. Businesses in the area will be serving meals outside for two weekends coinciding with Downtown Dining Week, which runs until April 25.
The newest flock to Edmonton's e-scooter family is Spin. You can find them all over Old Strathcona and downtown. (Mack Male)
The DBA says its move to close 104th Street to vehicle traffic is a way to allow for safe, increased outdoor seating capacity.
Puneeta McBryan, executive director of the DBA, said she understands how important safety is during the pandemic but that all of the opening and closing has created uncertainty for businesses and staff. She hopes that 104th Street opening will provide some relief, at least for a short period.
“It may seem frivolous from the outside to say that you are going to have some extended patios,” McBryan said in an interview with Global News. “But for our businesses and for the people who live downtown, they want to see the vibrancy back in their neighbourhoods. This is absolutely massive.”
McBryan also hopes to see a partial closure outside the Mercer Tavern and Mercer Warehouse. That will give those who are taking a Spin down to 104th Street a bit more room to scoot.
“Canada is our fourth international launch in the past year and we continue to see heavier adoption of micro-mobility all around the world,” said Derrick Ko, CEO and co-founder of Spin, said about the company landing in Edmonton.
“As the COVID-19 vaccine continues to be distributed, we want to ensure people have multiple transit options available to ensure a seamless return to their normal pre-pandemic routines.”
With temperatures forecast for the mid-teens, Edmontonians should have plenty of opportunities to soak up the sun – perhaps on a scooter or eating delicious local food on 104 Street.