September 24, 2022

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Neuron, Bird launch new mobility option in Calgary

If scooting around town isn’t your style, pedal power is on the way. 

Neuron and Bird — two e-scooter companies that operate in Alberta — are set to launch dockless e-bike fleets in Calgary. You could see them on city streets starting June 1. 

When the City of Calgary chose two companies to operate e-scooter rentals, the option to also roll out e-bikes was on the table, with each company allowed to test a fleet of 100 bikes. 

“Shared e-scooters and e-bikes are a great way to reduce carbon emissions, relieve congestion and eliminate some car trips from our roads,” read a statement from city spokesperson Amanda Bradley. “They provide safe, sustainable and low-cost ‘last-mile’ transportation to Calgarians, and we’re looking forward to seeing shared e-bikes in the city.” 

Daniel Rodrigo, Neuron Alberta manager, said the company wasn’t in a rush to roll out e-bikes, wanting to iron out any issues with scooters before introducing another mode of transportation. 

“It’s been fantastic,” Rodrigo said. “It’s definitely one of, if not our best, markets in Canada. Calgary has been super receptive in terms of e-scooter usage.”

Bird’s e-bike was built in-house and feaures pedal assist once you get up to speed. (Supplied by Bird)

Both companies think having the option to pick an e-scooter or bike will help different types of travellers. At Bird, JJ Bitove, chief financial officer, said they see their e-bike as an option for those looking to go a little further than the average scooter ride. 

“It doesn’t make sense to take a scooter to go ride five kilometres somewhere where a bike gets can get you there much faster and easier.”

Rules differ slightly from scooters

E-bikes must follow the same rules as regular commuter bikes under the Alberta Traffic Safety Act as well as Calgary’s cycling bylaws. The main difference: scooters are permitted on sidewalks, bikes are not.

Other rules include: 

  • Riders must be over 19.
  • No children or pets are allowed in e-bike baskets.
  • Riding under the influence is not allowed.

Booking an e-bike is done through the same Neuron or Bird app and costs the same as a scooter ride.

Dockless e-bikes not new for city

Lime launched a dockless electric bike system in 2018 starting out with a fleet of just under 400 bikes. 

Then in 2020, Lime abruptly pulled e-bikes from Calgary streets in February stating the model wasn’t sustainable. The company said users were overwhelmingly choosing scooters. 

The fleet was made up of 500 electric pedal-assist bikes. According to city data, there were 40,000 users who took 168,000 trips and travelled 210,000 kilometres in a year. As a comparison, over three months in 2019, both Bird and Lime scooters logged 750,000 trips.

But Bitove is confident the market has changed since Lime left Calgary. Especially after people’s habits have changed through the course of the pandemic. 

“You’ve already built on the success of an e-scooter pilot and really turned it into like a long-term solution,” he said.

“So when you’re able to kind of come in and layer on a new bike program on top of that … I think it sets itself up a lot better.”