Kelowna, Vernon have e-scooters — why not Kamloops? | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna, Vernon have e-scooters — why not Kamloops?

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May 22, 2021 - 7:00 PM

Now that Vernon and Kelowna are both onboard to see e-scooters rolling on streets and sidewalks, a Kamloops advocacy group hopes to see the same changes come to Kamloops.

Rob Higgins sent a letter to city officials touting the benefits of e-scooters on Thursday calling for bylaw changes that would see electric kick scooters allowed on streets, sidewalks and multi-use paths.

Higgins, vice president of Kamloops Association for Low Carbon Transportation, says when the proposals for an e-scooter pilot project were being discussed in Kelowna and Vernon, he asked city officials why they hadn’t made the same efforts.

“It wasn’t on the radar,” he said. “I asked them if the city was planning to apply, but the sustainability office just wasn’t on top of it.”

The letter doesn’t call for rentals yet. Higgins says contractors and rentals are “a future conversation,” but bylaw changes can pave a way forward to diversify transportation in Kamloops.

“I often think of this like snowboarding. At first, it was despised on ski hills, most outright banned them,” he said, adding that it was only a matter of time before snowboarders were as much a part of any ski resort as skiers.

READ MORE: Prepare to zip around Kelowna and Vernon on an e-scooter

Kamloops is a difficult city to get around. Compared to Kelowna, bike lanes are few and far between, not to mention the elevation change involved in commuting between Riverside park and a residential neighbourhood such as Sahali.

Higgins came to accept that he had to climb hundreds of metres to bike from his workplace at TRU to his home in Aberdeen, until he bought an e-bike and later an e-scooter.

“Three years ago I really didn’t think about having an e-bike, but I was killing myself everyday going up to Aberdeen and to TRU everyday,” he said. “Until they came along, nobody would think about bike commuting.”

City councillor Arjun Singh has some concerns about path and sidewalk etiquette between e-scooter riders, vehicles and walkers, but believes e-scooters could be a good fit for Kamloops.

“I’m finding now our trails are getting more packed through the summer. You have to be very mindful of those around you,” he said. “I’m super excited by the possibility."

Singh says the city was contacted by an e-scooter company previously, but it was “premature” at the time.

READ MORE: B.C. pilot study to allow electric kick scooters to operate legally in six cities

As e-bikes can cost well over $1,000, the prospect of e-scooters offering a more low-cost option for people in Kamloops is something Singh looks forward to.

Higgins’ renewed efforts are following recent changes at the two Okanagan cities, but they have a larger goal of encouraging more low-carbon transportation in Kamloops.

“eKickScooters are an important gap technology for low-carbon urban transportation. Many people fear to ride bikes on the roadways and travel enough of a distance to their workplace to make walking feel challenging,” the letter reads. “eKickScooters are another option for consideration.”

In Vernon, e-scooters are allowed on both roads and sidewalks, after recent bylaw changes. The regulations are outlined on the city website, where a requirement to yield to pedestrians is included when on sidewalks. Another rule, for example, is that scooters are only allowed on roads with speed limits over 50 km/h if there is a bike lane.

Higgins believes bringing more mobility to Kamloops would encourage more commuters to tackle the steep hills in the Thompson Valley.

“We aren’t lucky that we had an abandoned railroad we could connect handily,” Higgins said, remarking on Kelowna’s Rail Trail.

READ MORE: A trail from Sicamous to Osoyoos depends on West Kelowna to Peachland problem

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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