City of Toronto Opts-Out of Provincial E-Scooter Pilot, Limiting Transit Options in The 6ix Leave a comment


Did you know that the popular e-scooters we’ve been seeing all around The 6ix lately, are actually illegal? Last week, the City of Toronto voted unanimously to opt-out of the provincial electric kick-style scooters (e-scooters) pilot aimed to increase mobility options across the city. The reason: “safety and accessibility” concerns. Needless to say, I’m confused.

It goes without saying that many of our daily habits pre-COVID, will likely not make it into everyday life once restrictions are lifted completely. That includes transportation. For those who are hesitant to ride the TTC – where you can STILL find riders trying to ride without masks – bikes and e-scooters are an excellent alternative for your morning commute. Especially since the city made those wonderful bike lines on all the high traffic roads across the city. The added bonus of an e-scooter is not showing up to your destination looking like you just got off the gym floor.

E-Scooters: The Debate

With the pilot project, the Ministry of Transportation released ‘Best Practices‘ guidelines for using e-scooters which includes the required vehicle and operator safety requirements. Vehicle regulations outline the maximum size, weight and power output of the e-scooters; the max speed permitted by MTO…24km/h. Operator regulations include helmet safety, no cargo or baskets, no driving under the influence, and no driving on the sidewalk.

Now, I understand that there are a lot of different factors to consider with allowing e-scooters in public areas. First of which is of course: insurance. An e-scooter is technically a motorized vehicle, but I definitely wouldn’t consider them to be comparable to a motorcycle. And I’m willing to bet that the number of injuries due to e-scooter accidents, are much lower than those obtained in a motorcycle accident.

“Offering safe, sustainable and modern transportation options to Toronto residents and visitors remains an important priority for the City,” according to a press release issued on May 5th. “The City is committed to supporting other forms of micromobility, such as Bike Share Toronto – which has quickly and safely expanded its fleet to integrate with public transit and introduce the addition of pedal-assisted e-bikes.”

The way I see it, the City of Toronto has spent countless amounts of time, energy, and resources into building all the bike lanes around the city… but we have to use them THEIR way. How is it that the City will allow e-bikes to ride in their bike lanes, and not e-scooters?

Takeaways

According to the City, Bike Share Toronto now has just under 7k bikes across 625 stations. Many of us have used the program, especially during the Summer months, and it’s a wonderful way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon. But when it comes to your morning commute… those bikes are nowhere to be found.

Ultimately, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused us all to look outside of our normal routine for a safer alternative. Right now, that means being outside and physically distanced. We should be embracing new and convenient alternatives for safe travel, instead of pigeon-holding us to an unreliable City program.

At this time, riding e-scooters on any public property including: roads, bike lanes, sidewalks, parks, trails, and other public areas is illegal. Violators can be charged a fine of up to $950.





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