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Saskatoon e-scooter pilot off to a rocky start

A new pilot project that just rolled out onto Saskatoon streets is off to a rocky start.

City councillors say they're getting complaints that rented e-scooters are being abandoned outside of designated areas.

Saskatoon is the first city in the province to allow e-scooters on public roads, part of a two-year pilot project.

“Bird scooters have been around in Canada for the past four years,” said Alexandra Petre, COO of Bird Canada. “We're very excited that the City of Saskatoon has decided to participate in the micro mobility pilots and right now they’re running a pilot to understand usage and demand in Saskatoon.”

Bird and Neuron are the two companies that will supply around 500 scooters around the city.

“What’s really important to this initial pilot period is really to show that this is going to be a mode of transportation that people are going to use in the city,” Isaac Ransom, corporate affairs with Neuron told CTV News. “And we're already seeing lots of rides.”

But in the first weeks, city councillors say they're getting complaints that scooters are being ditched all over town.

“I’ve got a lot of emails and phone calls about this, and a lot of photos,” said Cynthia Block, Ward 3 councillor. “I had anticipated that the e-scooter project was tightly regulated in terms of making sure that people return their units to the appropriate place.”

The e-scooters are designed to work only in designated areas, but the city says there have been some hiccups with the technology

“The first few days, the geofencing system in place wasn’t working properly, and you were able to ride on a sidewalk,” said Jay Magus, director of transportation. “You'd get to a parking mat, and you were not allowed to stop.”

Magus says the problem has now been rectified, and riders will be penalized for things like parking the scooter in the wrong location or riding on the sidewalk.

“The system is supposed to work so that you can't end your ride, so you'll be continuously charged if you leave it in the wrong spot,” he said.

But SGI says riders need to be aware of the rules of the road when using e-scooters, and that they may be liable for damages caused while riding.

“If you are in a situation where you are piloting an e-scooter and you cause damage to somebody else's property, you may be held responsible for that damage,” said SGI spokesperson Tyler McMurchy, who says that riders are subject to the same impaired driving laws as any other motorized conveyance.

Both companies' policy is for riders to be at least 16 years old with parental permission, or 18 to ride on your own. Top Stories

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