The District of North Vancouver voted Monday night to join the City in the trial of an e-scooter pilot program, first introduced into the region by the provincial government.
Passing unanimously, the e-scooter pilot legalizes use of personal kick e-scooters on specified district roadways and cycling infrastructure.
When the province announced a two-year pilot project to test e-scooters on municipal streets and paths in 2020, all three North Shore local governments signed up. The province gave the go ahead for legalized e-scooters in six jurisdictions 2021 but left it up to municipalities to add further rules.
In a presentation to council, staff member Zachary Mutherin outlined the scope of the pilot. It does not include e-scooter share programs, like Lime Scooters that are seen in other jurisdictions across North America, and scooters must be equipped with a bell or horn and lights, riders must be 16 years of age or older, wear helmets, and use local and collector streets with a signed speed limit of 50 km/h.
Scooters will also have a speed limit of 24 km/h and will be prohibited on arterial streets unless the rider is within a mobility lane.
“That will exclude some of our more major arterials that [have] higher traffic volumes, in an effort to ensure that safety is preserved and balanced between other road users,” Mathurin explained.
Whilst councillors had questions regarding public education efforts about the program and safety features of the e-scooters, they were overwhelmingly supportive of the micro-mobility program.
Coun. Jordan Back noted that if the district is allowing e-scooters on bicycle infrastructure along arterials, “It really highlights the importance of having a built out, connected, safe network of mobility lanes.”
Coun. Jim Hanson said as the pilot ends officially in 2024, it will give time to assess the impact of the pilot, and the district can reverse track if need be.
Mayor Mike Little told council of the need to remind people who ride e-scooters of their responsibility under the provincial Motor Vehicle Act, saying: “If you're operating on a public street, and you have a powered device, you definitely could be subject to ticketing or action” under the Act.
Mutherin did confirm that as Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) and Tsleil-Waututh Nation did not initially sign up to be involved in the pilot, it will still be technically illegal to ride scooters through their territories.
“But I know that they have expressed interest in other micro-mobility and active transportation matters. So that could change under the pilot’s timeline,” he said.
Coun. Betty Forbes noted that enforcement of speed limits and safety features could prove difficult.
“This is no insult of any kind to the RCMP, but much like the district, they have limited resources too,” she said. “I don't think the RCMP have a lot of resources for monitoring those paths.”
The pilot program will come back to council at a later date for adoption.