Province considering new laws to allow e-scooters, segways and more on BC roadways

WatchThey are not bikes, but they're also not cars. Electric scooters, segways and other alternative transportation vehicles are growing in popularity, especially in cities like Victoria. But they are not currently allowed on roads, or sidewalks. The BC Government is moving towards changing the Motor Vehicle Act to loosen up the regulations. But as Mary Griffin reports, it may take a while.

They’re coming.

Slowly but surely, electric scooters and other types of electric-powered transportation are zipping into Canadian cities. 

Paul Arlin is a big fan and so are his employees at his Montreal-based business, Jiffy.

“It’s much easier than hopping into a car. You have to find parking. It’s usually even quicker,” Arlin said.

In Montreal, electric scooters even have their own designated parking areas. But it’s a different story here in B.C.   Electric scooters are big sellers at Victoria’s Ride the Glide. But if you buy one, owner Alicia Besler said you can’t ride it in town.

“We have people that are looking to purchase the electric scooters, or electric uni-cycles, or segway products, and you know, a lot of the time the question is, where can I use it that I’m not going to get ticketed? Unfortunately up until now, for the time being, it continues to be private property,” Besler said.

But that could soon change, according to BC’s Transportation Minister Claire Trevena.

If passed, the proposed amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act will establish a regulatory framework to allow the use of diverse modes of personal transportation.

The provincial government said the changes clarify how emerging devices are to be used and will ensure the safety of everyone who uses roads and sidewalks. The amendments also allow pilot projects to be established.

Currently, a device that does not fall under the act’s definition of a motor vehicle, cycle or pedestrian is not permitted to operate on highways or sidewalks. However, some new devices struggle to fit into any category and become “unauthorized vehicles.” The B.C. government said the amendments will give the government the ability to address this.

“We’re very excited about these amendments. we’ve had a lot of people very interested in new forms of personal transportation, whether they be e-scooter, unicycles or hoverboards. These amendments will give communities the opportunity to trial these new forms of transportation,” Trevena said.

The changes mean cities like Victoria can go ahead with a pilot project to gauge the level of interest from the community.

“We’ve been waiting for a very, very long time for this,” Besler said.

It could take up to three years for the final legislation, but Victoria hopes to have its pilot project and scooters on city streets within months.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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