Victoria drivers may soon be sharing the road with another form of transportation: Electric scooters.
“It’s really just a lot of fun. It’s really easy, a great way to get around for short distances,” said Alicia Besler, co-owner of Ride the Glide, an electric bike shop.
Under B.C’s Motor Vehicle Act, people are not allowed to use electric scooters (e-scooters) on public roads or sidewalks. It’s a rule Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps is trying to change.
“We want to give people transportation options so they can move around the city in a sustainable way,” said Helps.
The demand for electric scooters has increased in Victoria stores, with more people asking for them.
“Anywhere from one or two a week to as many as a couple a day, just kind of depends on the weather,” Besler said.
Montreal launched a pilot project last summer allowing an e-scooter sharing company, Lime, to operate in the city. Only a year later, it’s been temporarily banned after riders kept breaking the rules.
Scooters were left all over the city, sometimes blocking sidewalks and entrances, and people were not using helmets.
Although this may seem like a setback, Helps is not discouraged and hopes to learn from the mistakes of other cities before implementing it here in Victoria.
“This is the benefit of not being first, just like bike lanes,” said Helps. “We’re not the first place in North America to build them, we’re copying others, and so, too, with e-scooters, we’ll learn from other places.”
Although e-scooters are a form of clean-energy transportation, there could be a significant environmental impact if they are not properly taken care of.
“They’re toted as a green way to get around the city and ditch your car but you’re not considering the fact that these scooters, which are using lithium ion batteries… are generally lasting two to six months,” said Besler, “They’re discarded and go into garbage piles which is not very environmentally responsible.”
Instead of implementing scooter-sharing services, Besler said the city should allow e-scooters on the road for commuters to purchase or rent.
Kelowna is one of the cities in the middle of a ride-sharing service pilot project, operating in an 18-kilometre city corridor. It’s seen 20,000 rides in the first three months alone.
The city credits the success of the project to the way they’ve implemented the program.
“We usually think, ‘Hey if someone wants to park their bike there, maybe there should be a bike rack.’ We don’t typically say, ‘That’s a big problem that someone wants to park their bike there, we should ban bikes,” explained Matt Worona, Kelowna’s New Mobility Specialist.
“So it’s just a way of approaching different, new technologies.”
Kelowna and Victoria are among many cities in the province who have applied for an exemption from the Motor Vehicle Act to allow the use of e-scooters on public roads.