E-scooters on Kelowna streets cause problems for people with mobility aids, advocate says

·2 min read
E-scooters are being left in the middle of sidewalks in Kelowna, B.C., blocking people who use wheelchairs, walkers and mobility scooters.  (Spring Hawes/Twitter - image credit)
E-scooters are being left in the middle of sidewalks in Kelowna, B.C., blocking people who use wheelchairs, walkers and mobility scooters. (Spring Hawes/Twitter - image credit)

E-scooters took to the streets of Kelowna, B.C., a month ago as part of a provincial pilot program, but they could be causing problems for people with mobility issues when riders dump them in the middle of sidewalks at the end of their trip.

Spring Hawes, who is tetraplegic and uses a wheelchair, said she often comes across e-scooters left on the sidewalk, taking up so much space she can't get around them.

"My main concern is that they are creating barriers, not just for people with mobility issues but people in general using the sidewalk," she told Daybreak South host Chris Walker.

"I think e-scooters are probably a lot of fun, and I'm not opposed to e-scooters per se, but I think there have been some problems with how they've been used so far in Kelowna."

The scooters aren't supposed to be used on sidewalks which have ended up serving as parking lots for the devices that run on an electrical charge.

Hawes says she often has to turn around and find a different route to get around the e-scooters.

Whenever she sees an e-scooter laying across the sidewalk, she posts a photo to Twitter and tags the company that owns the device. She's only had one response so far, three days after the fact.

City staff say they're aware of the issue and are working on it.

"We do audits," said Matt Worona, City of Kelowna mobility specialist.

"We look at the parking across the fleet and get a sense of the percentage of improperly parked scooters."

They've been trying to educate riders, many of whom have never used e-scooters before, on proper parking through the four e-scooter providers in town, apps and city staff on the street.

Hawes doesn't see the situation improving unless docking stations or other designated return areas are created.

"It's sort of the nature of the way the program works, the scooter runs out of battery or runs out of time and people just tend to leave them where they stop," she said.

Worona said riders are learning and expects to see 99 per cent of e-scooters being parked properly "fairly soon."

Some people are more comfortable riding e-scooters on the sidewalk because traffic can be intimidating, Worona said, but that doesn't mean they should.

"Our job is to help them understand that a bike lane is the right place for them to be and the safest place to be," he said.

"When people decide to use the sidewalk, it has other impacts on other folks that are trying to use it for walking."

To hear Daybreak South's interviews with Spring Hawes and Matt Worona, tap here:

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