Ready, set, scoot! Hamilton’s e-scooter program arrives in lower city


Published April 4, 2023 at 10:48 am

Bird e-cooters in Hamilton. ANTHONY URCIUOLI/ FILES

The City of Hamilton officially launched its e-scooter program in the City Hall forecourt on Monday, deploying 150 technologically advanced e-scooters within the same core service area as Hamilton Bike Share: Wards 1, 2, 3, and 13 — essentially, McMaster University to Ottawa St.

In the coming weeks, the city will add more devices to reach the self-directed 350 maximum.

The Hamilton Bike Share system operates 825 pedal bikes within the same service area.

The City added that the vendor can apply to expand the service area in the future.

The vendor, Bird Canada, was chosen as the e-scooter provider after a competitive selection process. It will be supplying its eco-friendly Bird Three product, which it boasts of having the latest innovations, “promoting proper parking and curb sidewalk riding.” Released in 2021, version three also promises to “provide audible sound emissions that ensure e-scooters can be heard by the visually impaired.”

As part of the agreement, Bird Canada has committed to addressing any complaints related to e-scooters within 30 minutes, which is half the time the City requested in its framework. Bird Canada will also be providing a $15,000 replenishable security bond that will be used to recoup any costs the City may incur by removing or relocating devices in the event Bird Canada does not respond within the required timeframe.

City staff has been working with Bird Canada to prepare for the pilot program since Dec. 2022. The company has secured a local warehouse and says it hired the necessary staff to operate and maintain the system, which was a condition of the agreement.

Bird Canada’s e-scooters use 3D City Mapping artificial intelligence technology to assist with parking, which the company says is ten times more accurate than geofencing — the most commonly used e-scooter parking technology.

“While geofencing works well to prevent riders from parking in large, predetermined areas, accuracy limitations make it unreliable when trying to determine if a rider has parked an e-scooter within a smaller space such as a designated parking location,” explained Bird. “In response, engineers at Bird developed an advanced new parking solution using a Camera Positioning System (CPS) that’s ten times more accurate than a traditional Global Positioning System (GPS).”

“CPS works well in dense urban environments and enables Bird Canada to validate parking compliance within 20 centimetres or less.”

bird canada e-scooters version three city of hamilton scooters bike share downtown scooter share bird three city council

Bird Canada photo

The Bird Three directs riders to proper parking locations and confirms in real-time if an e-scooter is within a designated parking spot before enabling the rider to end their ride.

“Using 3D City Mapping, Bird Canada creates a high-accuracy 3D scan of the buildings and architecture surrounding each approved parking area,” the company explained.

At the end of a ride, riders are instructed via the Bird app to scan their e-scooter’s QR code and then point their camera at the surrounding buildings.

“By identifying the buildings in the image and the perspective from which they are viewed in the image, the system determines the precise location of the e-scooter.”

If an e-scooter is parked within a city-approved or otherwise predetermined area, the system will enable the rider to end their ride.

The e-scooters in Hamilton also come equipped with a beginner mode, a safety feature that slows acceleration, limits the top speed, and provides riders with additional guidance on how to ride an e-scooter, as well as a safety feature that helps prevent riding while under the influence of drugs or alcohol by forcing the rider to provide a keyword provided through the app.

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