Where are Edmonton's e-scooters?

It feels like spring — temperatures are (mostly) up, the sun is (mostly) out, the snow is (mostly) gone, and the Oilers are in the playoffs. But one spring feature is still missing from the streets of Edmonton's core: E-scooters.

The e-scooters are out on streets in Calgary, Red Deer, Spruce Grove and St. Albert. The City of Edmonton, meanwhile, has not revealed which companies will be permitted to offer e-scooters and e-bikes this year.

"We do not have a concrete launch date for e-scooters and e-bikes as we are still in the final stage of the bidding process," Shewkar Ibrahim, the city's director of traffic operations for parks and road services, told Taproot on April 30. "We are planning on announcing the vendors in the coming days and (creating) a plan with the vendors to have units on the streets by the end of May."

Ibrahim said administration wanted to take time to evaluate the micromobility program based on data and public feedback and to put together a more comprehensive bidding process.

Still, more details about the popular e-scooter and e-bike program are offered in a report that's set to be presented at city council's urban planning committee meeting on May 2. That report outlines changes to the micromobility program.

Up to two companies will be engaged until 2027 in the latest shared mobility contract (all past contracts have been for one year), and the suppliers will be allowed to operate year-round.

"A three-year contract allows for more consistency from year to year and will also align with other city initiatives such as the active transportation network expansion," Ibrahim said.

Two people ride e-scooters on an Edmonton sidewalk

A file photo of people riding e-scooters in Edmonton. The city said there is no concrete launch date for e-scooters and e-bikes in 2024. (Mack Male/Flickr)

City administration said in the report that the new rules will allow suppliers to fine users for improper parking. Administration said it is also introducing new compliance fees for suppliers that could help deal with improper parking.

In previous years, the City of Edmonton has charged suppliers quarterly to operate. With the new contracts, the city will charge suppliers per vehicle, per day on the street. The city said this change is meant to improve how much the e-scooters and e-bikes are used, by actively relocating them and matching availability to demand.

Administration said it will install visible parking locations and no-parking zones. It also said it will place parking corrals at LRT stations and transit centres to encourage multimodal trips.

Like Canadian geese migrating north after winter, each spring e-scooters have shown up in Edmonton at a slightly different time. In 2023, e-scooters showed up in early April. The year before, it was early June. In 2021, they showed up in late March.

Edmontonians took more than one million e-scooter and e-bike trips in 2023, double the amount they took in 2022. One of the operators, Lime, said it saw particularly high demand across the summer months. "Edmonton was one of the top cities not just in Canada, not just in North America, but in the world this summer," Lime spokesperson Jacob Tugendrajch told Taproot earlier this year.