London

E-scooters in London? A city committee will look into it

London could soon be a test community for e-scooters as the Civic Works Committee begins discussions around a pilot project next week. E-scooter programs are already running in Kelowna, Calgary, Edmonton and Montréal.

The province lifted a ban on electric scooters as part of a 5-year pilot

An e-scooter rider cruises down the sidewalk on a busy weekend day in Edmonton. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

London could soon be the next test community for e-scooters after the provincial government lifted a ban on the two-wheeled electric vehicles.

A report going to the Civic Works Committee on Tuesday is asking councillors to give staff the green light to prepare a plan for an e-scooter pilot project, along with rolling it into the Bike Share Request for Proposal to get up-to-date details and operating costs.

"It just provides another opportunity for Londoners that wish to use that mode of transportation to have one available to move around," said Jay Stanford, the director of environment, fleet and solid waste at the City of London.

"You know, over the lunch hour for example, from one side of downtown to the other side it would be a lot quicker to move on a scooter than it would be to walk."

An e-scooter is a two-wheeled stand-up vehicle with a handle bar that is powered by an electric motor as the user stands on a platform between the wheels.

The Ford government announced details of a five-year e-scooter pilot program for Ontario that started on Jan. 1. The purpose of the pilot is to see if e-scooters can be safely integrated into existing modes of transportation.

"I think the biggest concern will be one of safety," said Stanford. "Not only safety of the riders who are involved in the scooter program but also of pedestrians and motorists who are just not used to these types of vehicles."

Across the U.S., the Consumer Reports non-profit found at least eight deaths linked to rentable e-scooters since 2017. In Detroit, there have been at least 44 severe injuries reported since they started an e-scooter pilot in the summer of 2018. Most of the injuries were related to head traumas.

E-scooter programs that currently exist in Kelowna, Calgary, Edmonton and Montréal are run by two main players in the micro-mobility industry, Bird and Lime. How it works is scooters are parked on city streets and users rent them by connecting to a mobile app or kiosk.

The province says that municipalities will have to pass a bylaw to allow scooters on municipal roads. It will be up to the city to determine if e-scooters can operate on sidewalks and pathways, along with deciding penalty structures if rules are not followed.

Other regulations include:

  • A maximum speed of 24 km/h.
  • A minimum age of 16.
  • No cargo allowed.
  • No passengers allowed.
  • A helmet is mandatory for anyone under 18.
  • Riders must have a horn or bell and a front and rear light.

Stanford said the city would consult with London police and the local health unit to get a better understanding of some of the legal challenges and safety concerns.

If the pilot plan is approved by city council, e-scooters could be on the streets of London by late summer.

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