Electric scooters are illegal on B.C. roads. So why are companies still operating?

Click to play video: 'Electric scooters grow in popularity but remain illegal on B.C. roads'
Electric scooters grow in popularity but remain illegal on B.C. roads
WATCH: E-scooters are green and cheaper than many of the alternatives, but are currently not legal in B.C. Jennifer Palma tells us why and which cities are hoping to change that – Jul 25, 2019

Electric scooters have become a popular way to get around, and more companies allowing people to share those scooters are popping up around B.C.

There’s just one problem: the devices are technically illegal outside private property under B.C. law.

Under the Motor Vehicle Act, certain devices like e-scooters, hoverboards and electric skateboards are not allowed on public roads.

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1 in 3 seriously hurt in electric scooter accidents

Still, hundreds of e-scooters can be found in Vancouver alone, and their popularity among young people, in particular, is increasing.

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Olivia Yau with Urban Machina sells electric scooters in the city, and says the company has seen an “increase of 30 percent over the past year.”

The machines range in price from $1,100 to $2,600. Depending on the model you choose, it can go up to 45 km/h and have a range of 25 to 80 kilometers on a full charge.

Yau says people want them for all kinds of reasons.

“Others might have a little bit of difficulty walking, but they don’t need an actual mobility scooter, so this serves as something in between,” she said. “And then some just want to have fun.”

But Const. Steve Addison with the Vancouver Police Department says you can be fined $598 under the Motor Vehicle Act for having no insurance.

“[Scooters] can be used on private property. So if someone has them, they’re allowed to own them. But they’re not insurable,” Addison said.

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“They’re not allowed on city streets, not allowed on bike lanes, not allowed on the seawall.”

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That rule applies to scooter sharing, which isn’t allowed to operate in the Lower Mainland.

But a Burnaby-based company, Bunny Scooters, is being allowed to launch a pilot project in Kelowna this weekend.

“They’re allowing us to operate within their own designated bike paths in a certain corridor of the downtown core,” Bunny Scooters CEO Richard Bruni said.

Other companies, including OGO Scooters, have already debuted in the city.

In a statement, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure acknowledged the section of the Motor Vehicle Act that prohibits e-scooters on public roads, along with other devices like hoverboards and electric skateboards.

However, the ministry said it has heard from residents and local governments that the rule should be changed, and is looking into the matter.

“The Province continues to evaluate the legislative, regulatory and policy frameworks, including the Motor Vehicle Act, to ensure that they help support and acknowledge all road users, and emerging active transportation modes, while maintaining overall safety,” the ministry’s statement said.

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The cities of Kelowna and Victoria have both written to the province calling for the rules to be either updated or better enforced to avoid confusion among municipalities.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said more transportation options should be supported at the provincial level.

“The province, like the city, wants to encourage people to use all kinds of modes to move around and quite frankly to get people out of cars,” she said.

It’s something that can’t come soon enough for commuters who are looking to avoid traffic gridlock and get on with their lives.

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