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U of C partners with Bird Canada to solve transportation concerns

By Eula Mengullo, October 28 2022

The University of Calgary has partnered with Bird Canada to address “last mile” transportation concerns on campus. With other alternatives having been tried in the past including Car2Go, Bird provided a program that could assist in this solution.

In a written response to the Gauntlet, Susan Austen, director of parking and transportation on campus, discussed the implementation of e-scooters and how they could be beneficial for students. 

“The partnership between Bird and U of C is not financially driven. Instead of commissions, we ask Bird to provide student ambassadors on campus that can respond to issues of scooter parking and placement and provide educational opportunities on scooter use and the program when appropriate,” said Austen.

With other programs having been implemented before, Austen said that the university finally settled on Bird Canada when they approached U of C in 2021. They proposed the pilot scooter program that could assist in solving the “last mile” transportation issue that had been an ongoing concern for students and researchers. According to a transportation survey case study, the first/last mile refers to the beginning or end of a trip made by public transportation. If the walking route is long on either end of the trip, this can discourage people from using public transit.

Although Bird scooters are not allowed in main pedestrian areas of campus from the transit station to the Kinesiology building, they are an option for navigating routes around campus perimeter such as McMahon Stadium, University District, or Foothills campus. Overall, this makes nearby communities more accessible to students. 

In recognizing that this may compel some safety concerns, Austen mentioned that there has not been any major incidents reported regarding pedestrians or riders. 

“There were concerns expressed prior to the program regarding interactions with pedestrians or bicycles, but to date we have not had any major incidents in this regard.  We have also not had any information on serious injuries for riders.  Our decision to limit the speed of the scooters on campus along with a no-ride zone in the campus centre may have assisted in keeping these potential incidents low,” she said.

The main rules for users include parking the scooters in their designated zones or bike racks. Scooters are also prohibited from being used inside campus buildings. 

The university encourages the use of safety gears like helmets and the courteous operation of scooters, especially when sharing sidewalks with pedestrians. 

The university’s Bird program is set to be reviewed annually, and changes will be made as often as deemed necessary. 

Any issues regarding the use of e-scooters on campus can be reported to the campus Parking and Transportation Services.

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