THUNDER BAY — Mayor Bill Mauro wants to examine whether Thunder Bay should join Ontario's pilot program allowing kick-style, two-wheel electric scooters on the province's roads.
The five-year project took effect last month.
The province has set out the broad rules for e-scooters such as the minimum age for operators (16), maximum speed (24 kilometres per hour), maximum power output (500 watts) and other specifications.
Interested municipalities are required to pass a bylaw to allow their use within their boundaries, and to determine where they can be operated.
Mauro has submitted a motion to city council, asking administration to investigate Thunder Bay's potential involvement, in consultation with city departments, police, and the Accessibility Advisory Committee.
"I think we should at least look at it. We're a large city. For those who may have mobility issues, e-scooters may be easier than using a bicycle," the mayor told Tbnewswatch.
He said if council decided it's a good idea, a bylaw would prescribe where the vehicles could be used "whether it be on roadways, on sidewalks, in public parks, or other areas."
One long-time accessibility advocate has expressed concern about allowing e-scooters off private property.
David Lepofsky, chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, says they move too quickly and quietly, and pose a safety threat for pedestrians, whether disabled or not.
Lepofsky told the Canadian Press, “As a blind person, I want to walk safely in public. I fear an inattentive, unlicensed, uninsured person, as young as 16, with no training, experience or knowledge of the rules of the road, silently rocketing towards me at 24 kilometres per hour.”
Mayor Mauro acknowledged that those concerns need to be addressed in consultations with stakeholders.
Key Elements of the Pilot Project
- Municipalities must pass a by-law to allow them on municipal roads
- 5-year pilot
- Maximum speed 24 kilometres per hour
- Maximum weight 45 kilograms
- Maximum power output 500 watts
- Minimum operating age 16
- No passengers allowed
- No cargo may be carried
- No baskets allowed
- Riders must stand at all times
- Bicycle helmet required for those under 18 years old
- No pedals or seat allowed
- Must have two wheels and brakes
- Must have horn or bell
- Must have one white light on front, one red light on rear and reflective material on sides
- Maximum wheel diameter 17 inches
- All Highway Traffic Act rules of the road will apply to the operation of e-scooters like bicycles
- Penalties in the HTA will also apply to violations of pilot regulation (fine of $250 to $2,500)
- Not allowed on controlled access highways
– Source: Gov't of Ontario
On completion of the five-year pilot, the government has stated that, following a safety evaluation, the Ministry of Transportation will make a long-term decision on whether e-scooters should be permanently allowed on Ontario roads.