Many Ontarians are still staying home as world starts to gradually lift lockdown measures and commuters return back on the road. However, there’s a growing concern that car traffic will increase as workplaces open up, resulting in even higher greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants.
So how can we prevent the automobile from dominating roadways?
The mobility options available play a crucial role in commuter’s decision making. We have seen roadways gradually change in recent years, and this has increased over the past few months; cities are creating new laneways for cyclists, opening up car lanes to pedestrian traffic to allow for physical distancing and micromobility options are being used for essential workers.
This includes bicycles, skateboards and scooters – any light-weight, human-powered or electric, low-speed vehicle. This may mean there is a potential for e-scooters to make a comeback as we look for single occupancy alternatives that allow for an open-air, physical distanced commute.
Lime, an e-scooter company took a pause on services as the pandemic started to evolve back in March, but now in select cities around the world they are working to provide safe, alternative transportation solutions for essential trips. Safety is their first priority and users are reminded with their app to follow guidelines to “THRIVE”, including recommendations specific to COVID-19 precautions.
Waterloo Region is no stranger to e-scooters as the University of Waterloo, David Johnston Research + Technology Park, and select areas of Uptown Waterloo were chosen for Lime E-Scooters’ pilot project and had 150 scooters for rent in parts of Fall 2018 and Spring 2019. More recently, in December, Ontario released a pilot program to allow e-scooters on roadways.
This micromobility option is picking up traction in Canada and around the world. Bird Canada has launched services in other Canadian cities, including a pilot in Toronto’s Distillery District last fall. Zip Dockless Inc, a Communitech alumni, has services in Waterloo, Kelowna, and the University of Windsor. So what’s next for the Waterloo Region? As we head into a warmer weather, perhaps e-scooters may even become the post-pandemic vehicle of choice?