Scooter regulation plan runs out of juice

A bid by the town of Sidney to regulate the use of mobility scooters on sidewalks has been rejected by UBCM delegates

A mobility scooter user prepares to cross the street in White Rock. The vehicles are legal for sidewalks

VANCOUVER – A bid by the town of Sidney to regulate the use of mobility scooters on sidewalks was rejected in a split vote by local politicians Wednesday.

On the advice of the executive, delegates to the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention voted to drop a request for provincial licensing of sidewalk scooters, and to exclude motorized wheelchairs from any restrictions. But a majority of delegates voted against any kind of regulation.

Sidney Mayor Larry Cross urged support, telling delegates there has been one fatality in his community, and two “serious rollovers” this past summer as scooters shared sidewalks with pedestrians.

“We’re kind of the canary in the mine in terms of the aging population, and the incidents and conflicts can only grow over time,” Cross said.

Other council members were unimpressed.

“If you have a problem with your sidewalks and people are rolling over, maybe you need to fix the sidewalks,” said Langley Township councillor Bob Long. “There are motorized bicycles, so is that the next thing, we’re going to license bicycles?”

Sidney councillor Melissa Hailey said the community has “wonderful sidewalks,” but education and some regulation is needed.

“There is no real legislation or any ability to deal with unsafe scootering on our sidewalks,” Hailey said. “Drinking and scootering is very hard to enforce.”

Nelson councillor Robin Cherbo said some solution is needed. His community has narrow sidewalks and some scooter users take to the roadway, without flags or lights.

Cranbrook Mayor Wayne Stetski was opposed, after talking with scooter and wheelchair users in his community.

Saanich councillor Vic Derman agreed that scooter users and pedestrians need education, but communities should focus on local improvements to give scooter users more safe routes.