City of Richmond considering electric scooter share program

Jul 9 2021, 1:07 am

As part of a proposed pilot program to allow electric scooters operate on select roadways and pathways within Richmond, the municipal government is also considering launching a e-scooter share pilot project.

All of this would be under the provincial government’s broad pilot program that tests the feasibility and safety of e-scooters on roadways. In March 2021, the provincial government announced six cities that would be participating in the pilot program, comprised of Vancouver, North Vancouver City, North Vancouver District, West Vancouver, Kelowna, and Vernon.

Following city council’s approval last month of a city staff recommendation, the municipal government is now asking the provincial government to add Richmond as the seventh participating local jurisdiction.

A request for proposals for a company to operate a pilot public e-scooter share program in the city was issued earlier in the spring. The procurement process has since concluded, and city staff will report back to city council in September 2021 with recommendations on the successful proponent and next steps.

These devices would only be allowed to run on streets with bike lanes, local streets (a street without dividing lane lines or a directional dividing line with a speed limit of 50 km/hr),  and streets with a directional dividing line and a maximum speed of 30 km/hr.

E-scooters would not be permitted on sidewalks and unpaved trails.

Richmond’s regulations for all e-scooters would be similar to those for bicycles and e-bikes, but city staff are recommending a maximum speed limit of 20 km/hr for on-street use and 15 km/hr on off-street pathways that may be shared with pedestrians, such as the Railway Greenway, Middle Arm Greenway, and Imperial Landing Park.

“The project supports a new low carbon mobility option for Richmond residents, employees and visitors, and encourages transit use with a solution for the first and last mile trip. The goal is to provide a safe, convenient and fun personal mobility option for residents that reduces private automobile use, promotes active transportation and transit use, enhances connectivity, and allows multi-modal access to employment, recreation areas and services,” reads a city staff report.

“Through monitoring and evaluation, the project is an opportunity to understand the safety of e-scooters, impacts on the public realm, potential for travel mode shift, and community perceptions that in tum will help inform future micro-mobility and active transportation initiatives.”

Kelowna was the first city to act on its participation in the provincial pilot program, as its city council in April approved the launch of e-scooter share services operated by several companies for its downtown area, including a fleet of 500 e-scooters operated by global micro-mobility giant Lime. Prior to the provincial pilot project, Kelowna had permitted e-scooter share services on an off-road, city-owned, multi-use pathway between downtown and the UBC Okanagan campus.

Late last month, Vancouver also approved changes to its bylaws to allow e-scooters to operate on select roadways, bike lanes, and pathways, similar to what is being proposed by Richmond. However, the city stopped short of moving forward with a e-scooter share program due to safety concerns.

Lime previously indicated its interest in launching its services in Vancouver. It will launch BC’s first electric bicycle share program in North Vancouver City and North Vancouver District later this summer, as a pilot project in the jurisdictions.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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