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Mississauga to launch shared e-bike, e-scooter fleet this summer

Mississaugans will have a new way to get around this summer, when the city launches its first shared system of e-bikes and e-scooters.

A fleet of 300 electric pedal-assist bicycles (e-bikes) and 900 electric kick-style scooters (e-scooters) will be available to the public across Mississauga through partnerships with Lime Micromobility and Bird Canada, the city announced earlier this week.

“There is demand across the entire city for this type of micro-mobility service,” said Geoff Wright, Mississauga’s transportation and works commissioner, during an interview on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning.

He says the city has identified 400 suitable locations for stations and expects the fleet to arrive in June.

E-bikes and other micro-mobility devices, including e-scooters, are seeing a rise in popularity, with more and more Canadian cities launching pay-as-you-go bike share programs in an effort to curb emissions and reduce vehicle congestion.

Aerial shot of Mississauga City Hall, surrounded by residential highrises.
Mississauga is getting a fleet of 1,200 e-bikes and e-scooters this summer. (John Badcock/CBC)

Toronto introduced its bike share program in 2011 with 1,000 bikes and 80 stations and has since expanded to 9,000 bicycles and over 700 stations. Bike Share Toronto covers 21 of 25 wards, but Toronto says it plans to expand to the entire city by 2025.

One expert told CBC News that systems like Toronto’s still don’t compare to their European or Chinese counterparts.

“They’re not a significant mode of transportation in any North American city,” said Murtaza Haider, a TMU professor and director of the Urban Analytics Institute, adding that on average less than two per cent of trips are made using bike and scooter share programs.

Because Mississauga has traditionally low-density developments with more distance between destinations, Haider says the city is not a conventional candidate for bike shares, but that shouldn’t discourage the program.

He says piloting micro-mobility programs is a good idea, as it allows people the opportunity to consider alternatives to cars and could be a hit for university students getting to and from campus or shoppers to and from places like Square One Shopping Centre.

“Transport planners will learn a great deal from the experiment,” said Haider.

A man in a suit jacket looks into the camera on a residential street
Murtaza Haider is professor of data science and management at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Toronto Metropolitan University and the director of the Urban Analytics Institute. (James Dunne/CBC)

But e-bikes and e-scooters don’t come without a set of concerns.

In places like the Netherlands, Haider says there’s been an increase in bicyclist deaths since e-bikes were adopted.

“They move much faster and older individuals have not been able to� fully understand the mechanics,” he said.

Disability advocates have raised concerns in Toronto about the use of e-scooters, especially on city sidewalks, saying they pose a danger to disabled and senior residents. While they are prohibited, the ban is unenforced and Toronto is currently developing a micro-mobility strategy which will clarify whether they should be permitted on public streets.

A spokesperson with the City of Toronto told CBC Toronto that a report, which includes extensive public consultation, will go before council next month.

Wright said that Mississauga’s two partners have GPS-technology installed on their micro-mobility devices that will reduce their speed and use in certain areas, similar to how anti-theft devices lock grocery cart wheels at the edge of the store’s parking lot.

“Technology has really advanced over the last couple of years in this space and the vendors that we’ve chosen have the technology to to limit speed through things like geo-fencing,” said Wright.

A spokesperson for the City of Mississauga says e-bikes and e-scooters will not be allowed on public transit.

Late last year, an e-bike powered by a lithium ion battery aboard a Toronto subway caught fire and quickly spread into the surrounding subway car, injuring one person.

Metrolinx said last month that only e-bikes with certain certifications will be allowed on GO Transit and riders will have to have their e-bikes inspected by staff before being allowed to board.

WATCH | An e-bike fire on the TTC: 

E-bike battery fire engulfs Toronto subway car

3 months ago

Duration 2:02

An e-bike powered by a lithium ion battery aboard a Toronto subway caught fire and quickly spread into the surrounding subway car, injuring one person. As the number of these devices increases, fire chiefs say these types of fires are becoming much more common.

Haider says that while Mississauga was built and designed more for car commuting than walking and biking, the pilot could be a seed for progress in transitioning away from vehicles.

“The city is changing, evolving,” said Haider.

He says density and demographics are shifting and with that comes the opportunity for newer ways to move people from one place to the next.

“That’s something that I’m looking forward to seeing in in Mississauga.”

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