With a quick kick-kick and a push of the Ogo acceleration button, we’re off.
I’m riding an electric scooter with Ogo Scooters owners Chris Szydlowski and Kyle Leduc on Friday along the downtown Kelowna lakeshore.
“See, I told you everybody has a smile on their face when they ride one of these things,” said Szydlowski. “E-scooter is such a cool and fun way to get around.”
Ogo Scooters officially launched Friday with 30 of the company’s 60 scooters lined up along the waterfront at the Kelowna Visitor Centre.
The media were invited out to report on Canada’s first e-scooter share program and take one of the groovy little two-wheel, stand-up vehicles for a spin.
“Certainly, it’s exciting to be first,” said Szydlowski. “It’s key to be first.”
Two other companies are also looking at setting up e-scooter share programs in Kelowna.
The public was also invited out all day for demonstrations and free rides.
Normal operations begin today with fees of $1 for activation and 30 cents per minute.
The e-scooters are activated and paid for through the Ogo Scooters app.
Once registered on the app with a credit card, you scan the QR code on the handle of the e-scooter to unlock it.
You can drop off the e-scooter anywhere, lock it by scanning with the app again, and then charges stop being applied to your credit card.
Edmonton-based Szydlowski also owns Canada West Segway, a distributor of that other stand-up, two-wheeled electric vehicle.
The e-scooters used by Ogo Scooters are made by Segway.
“Kelowna is the first city in Canada to get an e-scooter share program because the city is innovative and forward-thinking,” said Szydlowski. “The city wants to see more modes of transportation than just the car and support tourism.”
Szydlowski expects local residents will clamour to use Ogo Scooters as much as tourists.
Also, Kelowna was the first city to actually issue a permit for an e-scooter share program.
A similar e-scooter program is underway in Halifax, but it is operating in a grey area without city permit.
Ogo Scooters recommends and supplies helmets, but they aren’t mandatory.
The official minimum age to ride is 19, but those younger can download the app and ride until the company figures out a way to enforce the age limit.
E-scooters can travel about 25 km/h and can cover up to 45 kilometres on a single electric charge.
Ogo Scooters’ main pickup and drop-off location is the Kelowna Visitor Centre.
However, it’s working to set up other locations downtown and at UBC Okanagan.
Ogo Scooters would prefer you drop off a scooter at one of the designated locations, but you can drop it anywhere you want and lock it with the app.
A member of the Ogo R3 Team will find it via the tracking that’s in every scooter, charge it up and put it back into circulation for operation from early morning to 11 p.m.
The scooters are equipped with powerful front, back and running board lights as well as front and rear brakes.
For now, the company has set the boundaries for use of the e-scooters as downtown, along Abbott Street to the Hotel Eldorado, parts of Glenmore and along the Okanagan Rail Trail to UBC Okanagan.
Basically, the e-scooters can go anywhere a bike does on bike lanes, at the side of city streets, through parks and on the rail trail. They are not allowed on sidewalks or Highway 97.