One city in British Columbia is already allowing e-scooter sharing services as a new point-to-point mode of transportation.
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Early this summer, Spin was provided with a permit by the City of Kelowna to operate its e-scooter share service within the municipal jurisdiction under the bike share permit program.
However, as the provincial government’s motor vehicle act (MVA) currently does not allow e-scooters on roadways, for the time being the municipal government’s allowance of e-scooter operations is limited to the Okanagan Rail Trail — a 12-km-long designated citywide pathway that begins at Kelowna International Airport and reaches the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus, downtown Kelowna, and the Okanagan Lake waterfront.
Since June, the city has issued additional e-scooter share operating permits to four other companies, namely Ogo, Zip, Roll, and Bunny.
These services are dockless — similar to a growing number of dockless bike share services in BC — and are controlled by smartphone apps and GPS enabled.
According to Matt Worona, the active transportation coordinator with the City of Kelowna, there have been over 5,000 riders in under a month of operation with a maximum daily fleet size on any given day of 45 e-scooters.
Given the limitations of where users can ride their e-scooters, the ridership levels so far are promising and show the possible potential when the provincial government amends the MVA to allow e-scooters on roadways.
“Kelowna’s new bike share permit program helps companies work with us to offer new services that enhance travel options across the city,” Worona told Daily Hive, adding this is the second time a Canadian municipality has allowed an e-scooter operator to operate anywhere in its jurisdiction and the first for BC.
“Bike share and scooter share operators within Kelowna’s Bike Share Permit Program comply with strict requirements about data sharing, privacy, parking, and safety education. Kelowna’s new bike share permit program aims to regulate multiple bike share and scooter share operators ensuring we maximize convenience while leaving the potential clutter behind.”
In the near future, the provincial government is expected to make changes to the MVA to accommodate e-scooters as part of its new overarching active transportation strategy, but it does not have an established timeline.
“As we developed this strategy, we have heard from people that they would like to see new and emerging transportation technologies recognized,” said the BC Ministry of Transportation in a statement to Daily Hive.
“As such, the Province continues to evaluate the legislative, regulatory and policy frameworks, including the Motor Vehicle Act, to ensure that they help support and acknowledge all road users, and emerging active transportation modes, while maintaining overall safety.”
Earlier this year, San Francisco-based e-scooter share company Lime announced its intention to eventually expand to the Metro Vancouver market, when local regulations enable its operations.
Lime recently launched in Calgary on a pilot project basis, but its e-scooters can only be used on sidewalks, protected bike lanes, and other approved pathways, with a maximum speed limit of 20 km/hr.