Electric kick scooters could be legal in 6 B.C. municipalities this summer

·2 min read
It will be up to each municipality involved in the pilot project to come up with their own regulations for allowing the use of e-scooters.  (Tahmina Aziz/CBC - image credit)
It will be up to each municipality involved in the pilot project to come up with their own regulations for allowing the use of e-scooters. (Tahmina Aziz/CBC - image credit)

Electric kick scooters could become legal in six British Columbia municipalities in a matter of months.

Vancouver, Kelowna, Vernon, West Vancouver and North Vancouver city and district will be allowed to enact bylaws allowing e-scooters on residential streets where the speed limit is 50 kilometres or less, the provincial government announced Tuesday.

The scooters themselves cannot have motors that exceed 24 km/h on a clean, paved and level surface.

The B.C. Motor Vehicle Act doesn't allow transportation such as electric scooters on roads or sidewalks, but a 2019 amendment permits communities to work with the province on pilot projects.

The Ministry of Transportation said in a statement the project would give both it and local governments a chance to assess the safety of electronic personal transportation.

Once those governments pass bylaws saying where the devices can be used, e-scooters will be treated like e-bikes, where a driver's licence or insurance won't be needed, but riders must be at least 16, wear a helmet and follow the rules of the road.

Individual use first

Politicians from the communities where the pilot has been approved were happy to be given the green light, allowing staff to come up with localized bylaws.

"It's a tricky environment here, with our natural geography being quite hilly," said North Vancouver City Coun. Jessica McIlory.

"People are looking for those electrified options ... and we're actually able to bring in a broader group of people who would choose these active transportation mobility options that have that assist."

North Vancouver was one of the municipalities chosen because of a motion put forward by McIlroy last year asking to participate. The motion specifically says it would only be for personal scooters, not scooter-sharing companies.

"I think it's more of a walk-before-you-run type process," she said.

"We don't want to see, you know, situations like Los Angeles, where you've got scooters all over the place and sticking out of garbage bins and piled up on the sidewalks. And it's not that we think things would progress that far that quickly, but to do one step at a time."

In a statement, West Vancouver Mayor Mary-Ann Booth said all three municipalities on the North Shore would work together to develop the bylaws and will make an announcement at a later date about timing and where e-scooters will be permitted.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said his city aims to begin a trial of privately owned devices like e-scooters later this year.