The B.C. government has introduced legislation to allow electric scooters, electric unicycles or Segways to operate on British Columbia’s roadways.
The proposed amendments to the B.C. Motor Vehicle Act would establish a framework to allow the use of diverse modes of personal transportation.
The proposed changes, which are expected to pass, would allow pilot projects in B.C. municipalities to see how new transportation technology could work.
“We know people are changing the way they travel, and it’s important that our regulations match these changes,” said Transportation Minister Claire Trevena.
“There are lots of new ways to travel and we need to make sure our laws reflect the needs of our communities today.”
Under the current rules a device that does not fall under the act’s definition of a motor vehicle, cycle or pedestrian is not permitted to operate on bicycle lanes, roadways, highways or sidewalks. Breaking the current law comes with a potential $598 ticket.
If passed, the provincial legislation will leave decisions up to each B.C. municipality on where to allow Segways, motorized unicycles, e-scooters and hoverboards.
The City of Victoria is already building regulations to launch a pilot project.
“This is great news,” said Mayor Lisa Helps.
“We are working on regulations and will hopefully have something soon for a pilot project. The scooters would be used in the bike lanes. One of our staff were down in San Francisco and said the bike lanes were filled with scooters.”
Calgary launched an e-scooter pilot project in July. Scooters from two different companies had Calgarians taking more than 550,000 trips — totaling 1.3 million kilometres — on 1,500 Lime and Bird e-scooters since they hit the streets.
The scooters were extremely popular but had their critics as well. The pilot project allows riders to cruise on both sidewalks and bicycle lanes and has led to some challenges between pedestrians and scooters sharing the same space.
Helps says Victoria would learn from the experience in other jurisdictions.
“We can learn from their best practices, to make sure our regulations are put in so conflicts are avoided,” Helps said.
“I don’t think scooters will be allowed on sidewalks, just like skateboards are not allowed.”
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Victoria is also looking at select areas in the city where the scooters can be picked up and dropped off. The city hopes designated areas will avoid the challenges of rides being left to clog up popular destinations.
But not all communities are as keen as Victoria. The City of Vancouver has not yet considered launching a pilot of e-scooters.
“This young industry is rapidly evolving and statistics from other jurisdictions suggest that there exist safety concerns, particularly related to head injuries,” a statement from the city reads.
“Also, we are hoping to see improved longevity of the equipment which, for some systems, has been reported to last less than one month.”
The City of Surrey is also not considering an e-scooter pilot at this time.
“The City of Surrey is exploring how new technologies, including various micro-mobility options, continue to develop in order to develop the right future solutions for Surrey,” said Surrey’s Parking Services and New Mobility manager Dave Harkness in a statement.
“However, we have no immediate plans to apply as an E-Scooter pilot project site.”