‘Like an accident waiting to happen’: New Westminster proposes speed limits on e-scooters

Click to play video: 'Hitting the brakes on e-scooters in New Westminster'
Hitting the brakes on e-scooters in New Westminster
E-scooters are a popular way to travel in B.C.'s urban areas, and in a hilly city like New Westminster, the power boost is often warranted. But some residents say riders are going way too fast on sidewalks. As Travis Prasad reports, a New West city councillor is looking to change that – Sep 10, 2023

E-scooters are becoming more and more common on local streets and sidewalks.

However, these convenient conveyances may need to slow down on New Westminster roads if an upcoming motion at Monday’s council meeting is passed.

Coun. Daniel Fontaine is proposing a bylaw that would set speed limits for motorized vehicles including e-scooters on sidewalks.

“Many of our streets are 30 kilometres an hour. We’re … sending a message we want people to slow down on our main streets. Ironically if you’re riding an e-scooter on a sidewalk, there is no speed limit. You can go as fast as you want,” Fontaine shared ahead of the meeting.

He sees a complete ban on motorized vehicles as unrealistic because the city doesn’t have a good enough network of bike lanes.

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But Fontaine admits, it’s unclear what the speed limit and penalties would be, but adding a rule is a good first step.

“I’d like to see the enforcement plan that comes with the bylaw because if they don’t come together, to me it will make people even more cynical about local government and the ability for us to actually enforce these things,” Fontaine explained.

Click to play video: 'B.C. athlete calls for tougher e-scooter rules after crash left her in hospital'
B.C. athlete calls for tougher e-scooter rules after crash left her in hospital

Currently, e-scooters are illegal on roads and sidewalks in B.C. and only allowed on roads and highways in participating pilot communities — New Westminster is not one of them.

However, despite their illegal status, few tickets are handed out for people riding them around town and many people are worried for their safety.

“If you see them coming, you can get out of the way. But sometimes they come up behind you and it feels like an accident waiting to happen. Especially if you’re turning into a store. You’ll get hit for sure,” says resident Wayne Kirton.

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Advocates for urban walkability say the restrictions on e-scooters on sidewalks are needed because it’s like the Wild West.

“There’s no rules, there’s no regulations,” according to Joanne Folka with the New Westminster and Burnaby Walkers’ Caucus.

“They can drive on the street, on the sidewalk, they don’t have to stop at red lights, and they don’t have to let you know they’re coming. It’s very disconcerting.”

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