E-scooters one step closer to hitting Windsor streets, could be banned from sidewalks, trails
Hospital concerned about increase in 'traumatic injury' e-scooters could bring
If e-scooters are given the green light to zip around Windsor, they may be outlawed on city sidewalks and trails.
Under Ontario's five-year pilot project, the province gives municipalities the leeway to decide where e-scooters belong. But Windsor's environment, transportation and public safety standing committee voted Tuesday against endorsing the use of the motorized devices where people walk.
"Sidewalks are a pedestrian environment. They deserve to be there and feel safe there," said Ward 4 Coun. Chris Holt. "Cyclists are not allowed there by law, and neither should e-scooters.
By comparison in Detroit, e-scooter users — who can hit a max speed of 24 km/h — are allowed to ride on sidewalks where bike lanes don't exist.
"If I was in Detroit, I would have had a very difficult time with allowing the scooters on sidewalks. That is pedestrian space," said Holt.
Watch CBC Windsor's Jason Viau go for a ride and get reaction from people in Detroit about e-scooters:
However, Holt said the idea of permitting e-scooters on trails needs to be re-examined, especially along Riverside Drive where cyclists and pedestrians in some areas have separate, designated lanes.
Helmets for everyone?
When it comes to safety, city administration wanted everyone to wear helmets, despite the province only requiring people under the age of 18 to do so.
Holt took issue with that, saying it would deter people from using e-scooters, especially when tourists and infrequent users are prime targets for the motorized devices.
Nonetheless, the committee passed a motion that's in line with provincial rules.
'More traumatic injury'
"Regardless, we're going to be seeing more traumatic injury with them," said Diane Bradford, manager of the regional trauma program/injury prevention for Windsor Regional Hospital.
And by not making helmets mandatory for everyone, Bradford said "it's almost neglectful to not consider it."
"I think it's very concerning," said Bradford. "Helmets are only one piece of this. You can injure the rest of your body as well, but brain injury can last a lifetime and that's what we're talking about here."
Since Detroit started piloting e-scooters in the summer of 2018, there have been at least 44 severe injuries — most of them head traumas.
If helmets were mandatory for everyone, many people may simply "opt out" from riding an e-scooter, Holt said.
But Bradford said there are other options, such as cardboard-based helmets that are being used in Europe.
Here are some of the other regulations passed by the transportation committee:
- E-scooter riders must be 16 or older.
- No passengers or cargo can be on board with the operator.
- E-scooters cannot be used on highways or roads with a speed limit exceeding 50 km/h.
- E-scooters must be left in designated areas.
- E-scooters aren't permitted on Transit Windsor buses.
Ultimately, city council has the final say on what Windsor's pilot project would look like, should it proceed. Holt expects that to be debated in about a month.