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Scooter patrol to be unleashed on Kelowna

A Lime-S electric scooter in San Diego, California is pictured in this image from Wikimedia Commons.
Image Credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/Malhal
June 13, 2021 - 12:00 PM

One of the companies providing e-scooter services to Kelowna is launching a patrol team aimed at clearing pathways and sidewalks of scooter clutter.

Lime is launching an initiative that entails members of the company regularly patrolling high-use areas around Kelowna on e-scooters to correct vehicles that were not properly parked and position them upright and in the appropriate place on sidewalks, The teams will also remind riders how to ride safely and respectfully, and advise on proper parking procedures to ensure the cty remains enjoyable and visibly pleasing. The patrols will focus on business districts, with particular emphasis along the waterfront and downtown.

“We are committed to being an adaptive and respectful transportation partner in Kelowna and right now we are focused on improving the shared scooter experience for riders and non-riders alike,” said Jen Freiman, General Manager, Lime Canada in a press release.

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“We’re now introducing Lime Patrol as an extra tool to encourage safe and courteous riding and parking behaviour. Lime Patrol has proven successful in improving parking compliance and educating riders on responsible parking in cities across the world. This is in addition to working with the city to lower speeds on first rides, increasing enforcement, cracking down on impaired riding, hosting in-person safety training, and everything else we are doing to improve Kelowna’s shared scooter program.”

Lime Patrol members will also be on the lookout for people riding on sidewalks, recording users who do so and assigning $25 fines. Lime Patrol members will wear masks and maintain social distancing as they go about their duties.

In cities around the world where Lime has launched Lime Patrol, they say program administrators have noted considerable drops in scooter parking complaints, including Calgary, Ottawa, Paris, Los Angeles, and Spokane.

 The  Kelowna scooter program has been very popular, with more than 77,000 trips taken, averaging 1,700 per day. The average trip takes 18 minutes and covers two kilometres. While the scooters can be ridden all over the city, the main area of use is west of Spall Road and north of Mission Creek. In that area, about two per cent of trips taken were by e-scooter.

While the vast majority of rides have been for recreational purposes, many people are using them to get to or from work, shopping or appointments and there's a hope within the city that scooters could relieve some of the vehicle traffic from roads.

Their use, however, has triggered numerous complaints.

The RCMP and bylaw officers have, in the last six weeks, issued about 260 warnings. They’ve only had to respond to fewer than 30 complaints, mostly regarding helmet use, sidewalk riding, underage riding (users have to be at least 16 years old to legally operate an e-scooter) and impaired riding.

The rental program started six weeks ago, April 19, but Kelowna city councillors called for a review after receiving numerous calls from constituents. That report goes to council Monday, June 14.

Already, city staff have ordered numerous changes in how the program operates and has a total of 55 in mind, including a halt to new permits as the bugs are being worked out.

“Just like other vehicles, less experienced riders are more likely to have an injury,” the report states. “E-scooter safety research highlights that 29 per cent of e-scooter injuries occur during first rides. Staff will require that e-scooter companies limit first-time e-scooter rides to half speed to lower the likelihood of injury.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 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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