Vancouver councillor wants shared e-scooter pilot running by fall

A Vancouver city councillor wants to see shared e-scooters on the road before the end of the year. File / Global News

A Vancouver city councillor is hoping to get a shared e-scooter pilot project up and running by the fall.

Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung will bring the idea to council on Tuesday, arguing the devices can help people get around safely amid COIVD-19, while supporting the idea of “slow zones” on residential streets.

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

“Our world has changed with the pandemic,” she told CKNW’s The Jill Bennett Show.

“We know that people are more likely to get back in their cars, and we want to avoid that. We know people are nervous about getting on transit.”

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A report to council from City of Vancouver staff next week is proposing a pilot project for privately owned e-scooters.

Kirby-Yung argues such a pilot wouldn’t be equitable, as “not everybody has $1,000 waiting around to purchase their own scooter.”

Click to play video: 'E-scooter pilot project in B.C.'
E-scooter pilot project in B.C.

She said moving forward on private scooters only would push a potential shared scooter trial as far away as 2021 or 2022.

B.C.’s provincial government amended the Motor Vehicle Act in 2019 to let cities run pilot projects with the devices.

Kirby-Yung’s motion says the city would need to file an application for a pilot by July if it wanted to have it in place before the end of 2020.

Read more: B.C. government considers opening the road to e-scooters, electric unicycles, Segways

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Shared e-scooters have become popular transportation options in a number of cities around North America in recent years, and were named an essential service in Ontario and Montreal during the pandemic.

However, there have been complaints associated with e-scooters — particularly around safety, and people improperly parking them on roads or sidewalks.

Kirby-Yung said because Vancouver would be several years behind cities that adopted the technology early, it can learn from their lessons.

“One of the concerns that came up around scooters being littered in different areas is new strategies like parking corrals, where they’re parked in designated areas,” she said.

She added that the company operating the scooters can also install speed limiters on the devices, to help address safety concerns.

Read more: Province accepting applications for communities wanting to allow e-scooters, electric skateboards

She’s proposing that use of the scooters also be limited to protected bike lanes and streets with a 30 kilometre-per-hour speed limit.

“I think there’s a lot more experiences now to point to, that can address a lot of those issues.”

Kirby-Yung said if the city moved forward with the pilot, it would seek out a private company to bid on the project, which would then be responsible for paying licences and fees to the city to operate.

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The proposal goes to council Tuesday.

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