Six municipalities across British Columbia are partnering with the provincial government on a pilot project that tests the feasibility and safety of electric scooters as a mode of transportation.
The newly approved pilot project involves four cities within Metro Vancouver — Vancouver, North Vancouver City, North Vancouver District, and West Vancouver — as well as Kelowna and Vernon. These municipal governments were selected after the provincial government made a callout for interested local jurisdictions in early 2020 to request their proposals.
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Amendments to the BC Motor Vehicle Act in 2019 initiated the process for municipalities to work with the provincial government on developing a three-year pilot project.
“We know people are changing the way they travel, and it’s important that our regulations address e-mobility as an emerging mode of personal transportation,” said Rob Fleming, BC Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, in a statement.
“We will be working closely with these communities to test and research how the electric kick scooter can get us where we need to go, safely for everyone.”
As the next step before the launch of the pilot projects in each jurisdiction, municipal governments are required to pass their own bylaws outlining where such electric mobility devices can be used.
The provincial policies stipulate that the rules for e-scooters are the same as the e-bike; specifically, users must be 16 years or older, wear a helmet, and follow the rules of the road for cyclists.
In 2019, Kelowna became the first jurisdiction in BC to allow an e-scooter public share program, with limited operations only along the Okanagan Rail Trail — a 12-km-long citywide pathway from the airport and UBC Okanagan campus to downtown and the Okanagan Lake waterfront.
Last summer, Vancouver City Council approved a motion directing city staff to accelerate the launch of an e-scooter and e-bike share program. Major international electric mobility operators such as Lime have already indicated their interest in operating in Vancouver.
Over at the City of North Vancouver, the e-scooter initiative adds to the two-year e-bike pilot program city council approved in November 2020. The e-bike pilot program, which has since been expanded to include the District of North Vancouver, is anticipated to begin later this spring or summer.
“We all want to move safely and efficiently from place to place. It’s time to modernize how we move to and through communities, otherwise we will see significant impacts on our health, economy and environment,” said Linda Buchanan, the mayor of the City of North Vancouver.
“The City of North Vancouver is proud to be a part of this pilot project, as we are committed to delivering innovative and sustainable transportation options for people.”