A three-year electric kick scooter pilot program is set to come to Vernon, but first the city must have bylaws in place dictating where they can and can’t be used.
A minor amendment to Traffic Bylaw #5600 is all it will take and city staff is preparing a report detailing the changes needed and its implications for council’s consideration at the April 26 meeting.
The province named the City of Vernon as one of six communities, and the smallest, to participate in the program that will examine the use of the popular mode of transportation.
The goal of the project is to assess the use of the devices before provincial regulations surrounding the mode of transportation are developed and rolled out.
“Participating in the pilot gives Vernon a voice in the development of future provincial regulations,” a city staff report reads.
As the smallest community to participate, city staff noted the experience with scooters will likely be different and therefore Vernon’s role is all the more valuable.
The Ministry of Transportation first announced the program in January 2020, inviting municipalities to apply to pilot the program.
Earlier that month, the Downtown Vernon Association asked the city to seek proposals from interested bicycle-sharing companies.
“Shared electric kick scooters have been rapidly overtaking the bicycle share marketplace because they are more popular and more economically viable than traditional bicycle share systems,” the staff report to council reads.
Administration instead pointed council to the pilot program. The City of Vernon applied after the Feb. 10 meeting.
Benefits of this first-mile-last-mile solution that can complement public transportation include reduced greenhouse gas emissions, improved health and wellbeing, entertainment and support for tourism as a new attractive amenity for visitors, to name a few.
Creating a sustainable community is one of Vernon council’s top priorities, Mayor Victor Cumming said following the March 23 provincial announcement.
“Supporting active transportation modes such as electric kick scooters is critical to realizing our vision of being a leader in climate action,” he said.
“The city is grateful for the province’s support to expand active transportation options… with the creation of this pilot program that will support new and sustainable ways to get around our community.”
The pilot program was originally slated to start in summer 2020 but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the provincial election.
Kelowna was also named as a participant, as well as the City of Vancouver, City of North Vancouver and District of West Vancouver.