When it comes to the inevitable disruption that will be caused by the proliferation of electric bikes, scooters and every possible hybrid, we are so not ready. It’s the one big thing I learned from last month’s trip to Tel Aviv, and saw this:
Scooters (and electric bikes) are everywhere in Tel Aviv – by the thousands. Like an invasive species, it took only two years for them to fill a mobility niche, and there’s likely no possible way to exterminate them now.
Though there is the occasional sighting in Vancouver, so far the private scooter-share companies – notably Lime and Bird – have been prevented from taking root. Like Uber, the Province has kept them at bay by making their use functionally illegal. Here’s the situation as described in the new Active Transportation Design Guide:
Legality of E-Scooters and Other Small, One Person Electric Vehicles
At the time of writing, e-scooters (and similar small, one-person electric vehicles such as hoverboards, motorized skateboards, and self balancing electric unicycles) are not permitted on public roadways or sidewalks in B.C.
The B.C. MVA defines these vehicle types as motor vehicles, but they do not meet provincial equipment safety standards for on-street use. E-scooters and similar vehicle types may only be operated where the B.C. MVA does not apply, such as on private property that does not have public vehicle access, and on trails or pathways (if allowed by municipal bylaw).
Many of the laws that ban e-scooters were developed under different mobility contexts. As demand for these technologies and others grow, the policies may need to be updated.
Um, ‘may’? Scooters, in particular, are gaining global popularity. They’re cheap, compact, flexible, zero-emission, noiseless, practical, fun and hip.
There is no way to stop people from buying them. And if the law says there’s no legal way to use them, then the law will be seen as irrelevant unless rigorously and punitively enforced. And why would we do that when this is exactly the kind of transportation we want to encourage in a ‘climate emergency.’
There will be more to come on the particular circumstances in Tel Aviv. But we need to prepare ourselves now for the impact of this new mobility. May I suggest we send the necessary authorities to Tel Aviv for a couple of weeks with instructions that, during that time, they cannot use a car.