City of Victoria is considering a pilot project that would allow mobility scooters and wheelchairs to use some covered bike lanes. (News File Photo)

Wheelchairs in bike lanes pilot considered in Victoria

Motor Vehicle Act currently prohibits mobility scooters and wheelchairs in bike lanes

Wheelchairs and mobility scooters could soon be sharing the lane with cyclists if a proposed pilot project gets provincial approval.

Victoria’s Active Transportation Advisory Committee is asking the City for an 18-month pilot to temporarily allow mobility scooters and wheelchairs to use some all ages and abilities (AAA) cycling trails, but it would require an amendment to the provincial Motor Vehicle Act. Council passed a motion Thursday asking the province to consider what potential amendments may look like.

The Motor Vehicle Act does not currently allow people driving motorized scooters and wheelchairs on roadways when there are sidewalks because they are considered pedestrians.

Coun. Geoff Young asked staff whether the motion would also allow wheelchairs that are not motorized to use the bike lanes.

“The mobility scooters themselves do move, often, faster than a pedestrian to the extent that sometimes they’re a menace to pedestrians,” he said. “I think they are appropriate for the bike lanes. But I’m not clear about a standard wheelchair that would be expected to move at a walking pace.”

City staff noted the motion was to ask the province to consider options for amendments , and distinguishing the types of mobility vehicles allowed would be at their discretion.

Coun. Chris Coleman, sitting as acting mayor, clarified the purpose of the motion.

“At the moment, ambulatory assist vehicles are seen as pedestrians and therefore can’t use the bike lanes, so the question to the province is have you considered other impacts, opportunities? Can we allow these motorized pedestrians to use our bike lanes,” he said.

The City will consider the pilot project again after getting feedback from the province.

lauren.boothby@vicnews.com

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