Why new e-scooters won't be taking off in Kelowna any time soon | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Why new e-scooters won't be taking off in Kelowna any time soon

Chris Szydloski, on the e-scooter, and Kyle Leduc launched Canada's first e-scooter rent/share program on Friday, July 12, 2019.
July 16, 2019 - 6:30 PM

KELOWNA - The B.C. government has refused to allow e-scooters on Kelowna streets on a trial basis so riders of the newly launched rental program have limited places to travel.

Kelowna had applied for an exemption from the B.C. government to allow them on roads. It wanted to act as a test project for what seems to be an inevitable law change to allow them but that was rejected in a letter the city received just yesterday, Matt Worona, the city’s active transportation coordinator said.

So while this is the first city in Canada to welcome the scooters, which are well used in some U.S. cities, use is greatly restricted.

Riders can travel more than 10 km from downtown to Kelowna Airport along the Rail Trail or along the Abbott Street off-road cycling corridor for about five kilometres. They are not legally allowed on sidewalks, city streets or bike paths that aren't separated from roadways.

So far, the city has licenced 60 to a company called Ogo, but not all have been in use since its launch last Friday.

“We’ve only deployed, maybe, less than one-quarter of our units because of technological setbacks,” Kyle Leduc, co-owner of Ogo said. “It’s very complicated. We’re dealing with all this technology.”

The scooters are accessed through an app and are geo-fenced so they are restricted to certain areas and speed controlled.

Two other companies have acquired permits with the City of Kelowna.

“We will be launching this summer,” Luke Mydiarz, founder of Ridezip said in an email.

His company has a permit for 25 scooters.

But that will be all that’s coming this year.

“We’re looking, right now, into 2020 (to launch),” Josh Gray, director of government partnerships (west) for San Francisco-based Spin said. “There are things on our end that we need to configure. So I aim for early 2020.”

Spin has 45 sites in the U.S. and is steadily growing but Kelowna will be their first venture in Canada. Their licence is for up to 400 e-scooters here.

In fact, Kelowna is the first city in Canada to have a formal rental program. Along with a pilot program in Waterloo, Ontario, Calgary just launched its own pilot with 1,000 Lime e-scooters on Monday.

In all three provinces, the biggest stumbling block to the e-scooters really taking off is the fact that they are not allowed on roads or in bike lanes, only on separated and designated bike paths.

The Alberta government did make some changes in its legislation to allow for the Calgary pilot program but the scooters still are not allowed on roads in that city.

The one exception to road travel in Kelowna may come from UBCO.

“They control their own right of ways,” Worona said. “Without having to do anything about the Motor Vehicle Act, they can say, hey, you can ride scooters on streets around campus, which is kind of an exciting opportunity.”

That decision hasn’t yet been made.

Last year, the City ran a successful program with bicycle rental company Dropbike, but the company pulled out this year, leaving just the limited e-scooter option. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 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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News from © iNFOnews, 2019

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