Last week, Montreal’s opposition party leader Lionel Perez held a press conference calling on the Plante administration to pull the plug on electric scooters after last year’s pilot project. He claimed that scooter users flaunt parking laws, don’t use helmets and that scooters are left anywhere and everywhere instead of being placed back into parking areas.
“From what we’ve seen, it’s clear that it was a failure,” Perez said after the press conference at city hall.
We would suggest that he leave well enough alone. Scooters are easy to use, accessible, inexpensive and unlike Bixis do not eat up massive amounts of parking spaces. And tourists love using them. They add a uniqueness to Montreal visits. But what also astonished us was the suggestion that the scooter program be run by Bixi.
The Bixi program has been heavily subsidized by Montreal taxpayers since its inception. We’ve covered almost $100 million. It’s had year after year of losses until recently. However, it does have a heavy, front-laden bureaucracy, at one time including seven members of one family.
This attack is a departure from the common sense usually shown by the leadership of Ensemble Montreal.This attack wasn’t showing much of it. In fact, it opened the door to Mayor Plante responding with another attack on cars saying,“In order to encourage people to leave their car at home, there have to be options.”
In no way are scooters options to cars. But they are certainly better than Bixis. They are dockless and don’t erode parking spaces. Between Lime and Bird, there are some 700 e-scooters. Lime alone averaged 1,500 rides a day. Bixi’s 7,200 bikes totalled 36,900 rides all last year. Do the math.
Yes, there have been scooters parked illegally. But it’s hardly a crisis in the face of the havoc caused by Bixis. Perez complained that there wasn’t a “model” developed for scooters’ use and they block sidewalks for pedestrians. We don’t need any more models. We had models for the Bixi program and that’s resulted in the death of downtown with some 2,000 parking places lost. And if there is concern with a few scooters left on sidewalks, how much more are we inconvenienced by oncoming Bixis, whether we’re driving or walking?
Let the market decide. Let people have what they want. Scooters are light, portable and relatively unobtrusive. Perez’s suggestion that they be put under a program that is the exact opposite demonstrates a questionable manner of decision-making. It makes one think about what exactly is the angle?
This attack deserves a big, fat, “No!”