Money and insurance the only thing holding up e-scooter sharing in Kelowna - InfoNews

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Money and insurance the only thing holding up e-scooter sharing in Kelowna

This is a simple type of e-scooter that may be used in a Kelowna rental program.
Image Credit: Digital Trends web site
June 18, 2019 - 5:30 PM

KELOWNA - The City of Kelowna’s bike share program is on the verge of becoming an e-scooter share program now that the city has given the go ahead to three applicants.

“Everybody who submitted an application is at the point where they’ve been told that the only thing between them and the application is insurance and security deposit,” Matt Worona, the city’s Active Transportation Coordinator, told iNFOnews.ca today, June 18. “That’s the last step before we issue those permits.”

The city ran a successful pilot program last summer with Dropbike then adopted a bikeshare permitting program in May.

The first application was from a pedal bike proponent who has now withdrawn his application over concerns about being able to supply the bikes within the next two months, Worona said.

That means all three active applications are for e-scooters.

There is still no response from the province to the city’s request to allow these e-scooters on city streets. Currently they can only be driven on city-owned pathways and the Rail Trail.

“A lot of the companies that had done pedal bikes and e-bikes have moved into electric scooters,” Worona said. “Our rules are quite a bit more backwards than almost anywhere else in North America. Our regulations haven’t kept up.”

But things have moved a step in that direction

The province issued its Active Transportation Plan yesterday. One of its top priorities over the next year is to: “Review the Motor Vehicle Act to address the definition of road users to include emerging active transportation modes, such as electric bikes, scooters and skateboards.”

Worona is still hoping their use on Kelowna streets will be allowed this summer as a pilot project rather than having to wait another year for the Motor Vehicle Act to be changed.

He also noted that the term e-scooter can be confusing since it covers a wide range of vehicles. Some can be similar to push scooters but others more closely resemble electric motor bikes. Some do have to be licenced and plated as motor vehicles.

“It’s very confusing because these things with the same name slot into the B.C. Motor Vehicle Act in very different ways based on relatively arbitrary things like tire size and whether it has a seat,” he said.

Kelowna E Ride, for example, sells e-scooters ranging in price from $1,200 to $2,200 with speeds of up to 32 km/hr. Since they have pedals, they’re not licenced as motor vehicles but, since they have electric motors, they're not classed as bicyles so they aren’t legally allowed on roads or highways.

“People seem to be driving them anywhere,” a worker in the store told iNFOnews.ca. “They’ll drive down the sidewalks. They’ll drive down the street. They don’t seem to care.”

This is another version of an e-scooter that is not legal to ride on roadways.
This is another version of an e-scooter that is not legal to ride on roadways.
Image Credit: From Kelowna E Ride web page

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