E-Scooters and Modernizing the Alberta Traffic Safety Act for Personal Use

Subject Infrastructure
Year 2023
Status Adopted - Active
Sponsor - Mover
Calgary, City of
Sponsor - Seconder
Edmonton, City of
Active Clauses

IT IS THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT Alberta Municipalities advocate for the Government of Alberta to amend the Traffic Safety Act to accommodate the daily use of e-Scooters Alberta wide, for rental and personal use.

Whereas Clauses

WHEREAS e-Scooters are now readily available for sale on the private market;

WHEREAS the Government of Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act does not currently provide a legal framework for personal use of e-scooters beyond private property;

WHEREAS without a legal framework personal choice and freedom of mobility to meet needs and lifestyles is limited; 

WHEREAS in Alberta a municipality cannot create bylaws to regulate the use of personal e-Scooters; 

WHEREAS the Cities of Calgary and Edmonton have had to obtain special Alberta Transportation ministerial permissions to be allowed to authorize and regulate the use of rental e-Scooters under a pilot project;
WHEREAS if this process was replicated for dozens, or hundreds, of municipalities it would create needless red tape for both municipalities and Alberta Transportation and still not address the issue of e-Scooters for personal use; and

WHEREAS all Albertans should be able to legally use micromobility options that help connect travelers to local destinations.

Resolution Background

What is micromobility? 

Micromobility refers to a range of small, lightweight vehicles operating at speeds typically below 25 km/h (15 mph) and driven by users personally. Micromobility devices include bicycles, electric bicycles (e-Bikes), electric scooters (e-Scooters), electric skateboards, shared bicycle fleets, and electric pedal assisted (pedelec) bicycles. Shared e-Scooters are a great way for a resident or visitor to travel throughout a community. Since 2019, many Alberta municipalities have issued permits to companies, with the approval of the Government of Alberta through Alberta Transportation and Trade Corridors (Alberta Transportation), to provide rental access to new, safe, and sustainable methods of transportation. Users can ride a shared e-Scooter municipality-wide on bicycle lanes, pathways, empty sidewalks and roadways with lower speed limits and lower traffic volumes. E-Scooters are not permitted on busier roadways, like Macleod Trail or Gateway Boulevard. Information on the types of vehicles allowed on pathways can be found on the following site - https://www.calgary.ca/roads/safety/bike-laws.html

Benefits of shared micromobility programs
Data from other North American cities have demonstrated a wide range of benefits of shared micromobility programs including:
•    Filling in the gap for the vital first/last mile by encouraging people to walk, cycle and take public transit more often.
•    Saving time on short trips.
•    Providing access to various transportation options for all demographics.
•    Improving people's physical health by providing transportation options that encourage citizens to be more physically active.

Personal e-Scooter use not allowed in Alberta
Currently, personal e-Scooters are not allowed to operate on public sidewalks or roadways as they do not have provincial approval to operate beyond private property. For a private citizen to operate their own e-Scooter legally on a municipal roadway or sidewalk, they would also require a provincial exemption. No municipality has the authority to issue a vehicle exemption for public roadways. For personal e-Scooters, the devices do not have the same level of device regulation as shared e-Scooters, and many can travel at speeds over 50 km/h. Municipalities also do not have the authority to regulate what is sold online or in stores. If the Government of Alberta were to allow for personal e-Scooters on roadways, the City of Calgary would currently recommend that personal e-Scooters be treated the same as bicycles and travel on roadways, bike lanes and pathways. 

Personal e-Scooters are a growing regulatory gap that the Government of Alberta needs to address and allow for it.

Shared E-Scooter Operations and Restrictions
Shared e-Scooters have a number of restrictions on them to receive an exemption from the Government of Alberta including restrictions of top speed (maximum of 20 km/hour), insurance requirements (which in the case of Calgary is $10 million in Corporate General Liability Insurance), reporting requirements and geofenced areas that the devices slow down and/or cannot operate in. Currently, shared e-Scooters are allowed to operate on roads without lane markings (lower volume roadways), bike lanes, pathways, and sidewalks (as long as they do not interfere with pedestrians). 

E-Scooter and Micro-mobility in Alberta
Alberta’s municipalities currently do not have the authority to create their own bylaws that allow for and regulate the operations of e-Scooters on sidewalks or roadways within our communities. The Government of Alberta through Alberta Transportation and the Traffic Safety Act has jurisdiction over what types of vehicles are allowed on roadways, cycle tracks and sidewalks within a municipality. Under the current provincial law, motorized scooters (both electric and gas powered) are considered prohibited miniature vehicles. Alberta Transportation can authorize exemptions and allow their use under the Traffic Safety Act, and it is this legislated procedure municipalities that wish to undertake an e-Scooter pilot program must comply with.

In 2018, the City of Calgary and the City of Edmonton received permission and permits from the Government of Alberta to be able to conduct pilot projects in 2019 (and subsequently 2021, 2022 and 2023) that allowed e-Scooter and e-Bike companies to operate within these municipalities, such as Bird, Spin and Lime, in Edmonton and Neuron and Bird in Calgary. Once permission was granted by Alberta Transportation, municipal administrations were able to author bylaws that further regulated the approved shared e-Scooters. For example, the City of Calgary updated its Traffic, Streets, Stephen Avenue and Parks and Pathways Bylaws through the course of their shared e-Scooter and e-Bike pilot and the City of Edmonton updated their Traffic Bylaw, including specifically prohibiting e-scooters riding on sidewalks, through the course of their pilot. 

The Calgary and Edmonton 2019 e-Scooter pilots were successful and subsequently in 2021, 2022 and in 2023 more of Alberta’s municipalities applied to Alberta Transportation for their own e-Scooter pilots. In 2023, authorized e-Scooter pilot projects are in effect in the cities of Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, Lethbridge, Airdrie, Medicine Hat, St. Albert, Leduc and in the towns of Okotoks, Cochrane, Lacombe, and Blackfalds, among others.  
With Alberta having 344 municipalities, municipal e-Scooter and e-Bike pilot programs becoming more common province-wide, and successful e-Scooter pilot programs transitioning to permanent programs, Alberta Transportation should reduce the burden of red tape on itself and municipalities by formalizing  shared e-Scooter use and personal e-Scooter use within the Traffic Safety Act and permitting municipalities to draft their own bylaws to regulate the use and operations of e-Scooter within their municipality.

City of Calgary 2022 Micromobility Trip data.  

City of Calgary 2022 Micromobility Operators fleet numbers.