In response to part 1 of this series, of which focused on the challenges in planning for electric micro mobility, part 2 presents the opportunities for doing so.

As mentioned in part 1, BC’s current Motor Vehicle Act (MVA) serves as one of, if not the primary barrier to accommodating these technologies. Accordingly, reforming such act is a critical first step in creating a more welcoming, legal, environment for electric micro mobility.

Thanks to the Road Safety Law Reform Group of BC, much progress on reforming the BC MVA has already been made. Comprised of representatives from the legal, health, and advocacy community, including HUB Cycling, BC Cycling Coalition, and Trial Lawyers Association of BC (among others), the Road Safety Reform Group published a position paper titled Modernizing the BC Motor Vehicle Act, that recommends the following key reforms:

Section 1: Change the Name of the Act

Renaming the Motor Vehicle Act to the Road Safety Act would be a symbolic step in support of the BC Government’s “Vision Zero” plan and increase public awareness by emphasizing safety.

Section 2: Amend Rules of General Application

Addresses amendments to rules of general application, including:

  • adopting appropriate classifications for different road user groups, and
  • empowering (while reducing the burden upon) municipalities to set suitable speed limits within municipal boundaries.

Section 3: Add Rules to Improve Cyclist Safety

Proposed reforms include:

  • a safe passing distance law
  • clarifying rights of way in commonly problematic situations, in particular where motorists turn across cyclist through traffic; and
  • clarifying when a cyclist may pass on the right.

Section 4: Add Rules for Cyclist-Pedestrian Safety

Section 4 is specific to cyclist-pedestrian interactions as they occur on sidewalks or in crosswalks.

Section 5: Add Fines for Violations that Threaten Vulnerable Road Users

Section 5 proposes amendments to the fines for violating MVA provisions that relate to vulnerable road users. The proposed reforms would increase safety for vulnerable BC road users while promoting clarity, awareness and compliance with laws among all road user groups.

While this paper does not explicitly speak to electric micro technologies, proposed reforms can certainly help move the needle on welcoming these forms of technologies.

In addition to the reforms proposed in the position paper, the new BC Active Transportation Design Guide acknowledges that reforms may need to be made in order to accommodate these emerging technologies. Unfortunately, no verification was offered in terms of when, and what kind of reforms may be made. That said, there has been some speculation that changes to BC’s MVA may be happening within the next year.

While BC residents await changes to the provincial MVA, or, in the case of Vancouver, changes to the city’s bylaws, a number of Canadian cities and provinces have already begun to make legal reforms to welcome these technologies. To demonstrate how BC and the City of Vancouver could approach reforming its current laws, the following is a brief look at a number of Canadian cities who have already begun reforms. Surely if they can do it – so can we.

The City of Kelowna, BC

While the City of Kelowna is restricted by the regulations set forth by the provincial MVA, the city is permitting e-scooters to operate on trails and pathways – something the City of Vancouver is yet to allow.

The City has also just approved a permit for Spin, an e-scooter sharing program, that will deploy 400 scooters throughout the city. Kelowna is the first Canadian city to welcome Spin. Release date cannot yet be confirmed.

The City of Calgary, AB

Thanks to a recent exemption in Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act, a new 16 month e-scooter pilot will soon welcome sharing companies to apply for a permit to operate within the city (provided they meet the City’s safety standards).  This pilot comes in addition to the two-year dockless bike-share pilot approved in September 2018.

The city will permit these technologies to operate on sidewalks, bicycle paths, and trails, however, users must be 18+, and the maximum operating speed will be 20km/hr. Users are also reminded that it is illegal to operate these technologies while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. With that said, the provincial exemption to operate e-scooters only applies to the electric scooters owned by Permit Holders operating in the Pilot. Personally owned e-scooters are therefore still illegal to operate anywhere on the road right of way, including sidewalks, bike lanes, or roadways.

E-Scooter share programs are now eligible to apply for an operating permit within the City of Calgary. More info on Calgary’s E-Scooter Pilot can be found here.

The Province of Quebec and the City of Montreal

While other Canadian cities are making headway in reforming municipal bylaws and provincial MVAs, the province of Quebec was the first to pass a province-wide pilot governing the use of e-scooters on both public roads and paths. Under this pilot, e-scooters are primarily governed by the regulations applicable to bicycles under Quebec’s Highway Safety Code. In addition to the regulations set forth in the Highway Safety Code, users must be 18+, have received e-scooter training from the manufacturer or distributor, and must carry proof of such training while operating an e-scooter.

As a result of such reforms, the City of Montreal welcomes JUMP, Uber’s dockless e-bicycle and e-scooter share program. While the province will now allow these technologies to operate on roads and paths, the City of Montreal will be responsible for passing additional bylaws to further regulate these technologies, such as helmet requirements, speed limits and designated parking.

Montreal will be the first Canadian city to welcome JUMP. E-bicycles and scooters are set to launch this summer.

Comments

  1. Many of the proposed changes are good but many are far too restrictive.

    Roads have many purposes and one of the major ones is to provide goods and people movement – 99%+ today which is by buses, trucks, SUVs or cars.

    As such many make no sense, ie give far too many rights to 1% or less of traffic on those roads, ie bikes. For example, the safe distance passing law. In Vancouver, for example, I frequently see bikes on Broadway or 4th Ave where a block away dedicated bike lanes are available. Rather than fining these rogue bike users now cars have to drive over into another lane to pass them? So we inconvenience 99% to accommodate a rogue or uneducated biker?

    If e-scooters or e-skateboards remain illegal then the amendments are not useful. Treat them simply as bikes. A sidewalk is a sideWALK ie not useful for motorized scooters, bikes or skateboards. Where is this amendment? Or allow them to go 5 km/h like pedestrians but not any faster. e-wheelchairs ok on sidewalk as presumably slow so e-scooter ok too but very very slow (and many go far faster thus ought not to be allowed on sidewalk).

    E-mobility devices will be more and more common so we MUST have sensible rules in place to allow them.

  2. Thomas wrote: “…give far too many rights to 1% or less of traffic on those roads, ie bikes. ”

    You are hopelessly out of touch. 1%? The data has been provided to you already, and you continue to ignore it. Check the 2017 Vancouver Active Transportation Report Card, which has mode share statistics. Cycling to work is 10% city wide (share of trips), and cycling for personal business is at 7% city wide. But it varies by area. Along much of the Broadway Corridor, which you reference, cycling mode share is 12%, and it reaches 17% in Strathcona. The numbers are for 2016, and given the past trends, it has almost certainly moved from there.

    So now look at what is changing. Cycling mode share has shown significant growth, but even more important, 56% of residents city wide reported that they wanted to cycle more. They are held back by not feeling safe, by having to compete with vehicles on roads that are too single-purpose. We need more complete streets, which consider the needs of all users, not just people driving. We will have a great opportunity when the Broadway Subway is completed. There are two options, essentially. Will we use the newly-opened up road space to expand vehicle traffic lanes? Or will we reimagine the street to help us to meet our various City targets around climate, affordability, health, and so on? Wider sidewalks, and protected cycle lanes, would be a great start. You can continue to try and push all those people cycling onto quiet side streets, but what is your response to the businesses there? Why are you trying to starve them of customers? More complete streets will benefit their businesses, not harm them.

    And you are arguing to maintain the status quo. Get a clue.

    1. I do know these stats. If 12% of trips are on bikes, then there are substantially less by passenger-km as many short trips are bikes but longer ones by car or bus, so say 6%. Most of them are on dedicated bikelanes or corridors, say 3rd Ave or 8th Ave “Off Broadway” corridor. Thus the 1% assumption on Broadway or 4th Ave is a very reasonable assumption.

      Why are bike legal on 4th or Broadway, for example ? Fine them.

      Of course we ought to have more separated bike lanes. Cycling on Broadway (or Kingsway, or 4th or 16th or 76th or 41st) is not safe yet many bikes do it anyway. Any we amend the safety act for that and now fine cars because they do not leave a meter between bike and car thus clog traffic on a 4 lane road like 41st or Broadway ? It is ridicolous ! Bikes have their place and ought to be encouraged, but cars, SUVs, pickup trucks, trucks or buses need room too and carry far FAR more traffic !

      1. Why should cyclists pay the price because cars, SUVs and pickup trucks are so huge? 90% of cars have one occupant and an empty seat beside them that’s about a metre wide. Why should motorists be given that metre and not cyclists? It isn’t the cyclist’s fault that the motor vehicle is so absurdly inefficient in it’s use of space.

        Traffic congestion is caused by too many vehicles that are too big with too few people in them. Fine them! Cycling is a solution. Rewrite the rules to reflect that. And provide more protected lanes as well.

        Cyclists want access to shops and services just as motorists do. They don’t always want to be on the side streets.

        1. Yes more cycling is encouraged.

          BUT

          Not everyone enjoys it, not everyone is fit, many don’t like hills or rainy commutes, or they have to shcleep groceries or 2 kids, etc

          In addition, while the bike infrastructure is OK in downtown or central Vancouver it is weak elsewhere.

          Cyclists ought NOT to be on busy throughfares like Kingsway, Broadway, 4th, 16th, 76, 41 st etc .. yet they are .. we now have a decent density of bike lanes and off Broadway like throughfares with less traffic, in Vancouver.

          The 1% has far too many rights .. at no cost to them. Yet 99% get inconvenienced. I’d rather have more fast bus signalling on Broadway rather than having 99 bus with 75 people in it stop for one person crossing.

          Volume and throughput matters, ie keep the 99% in mind, not just the 1%.

          Where are the “no bike” signs on Broadway, for example ?

          1. You keep referring to 1% of trips on Broadway by bike.

            It would be foolish to try and determine the need for a bridge across a river by counting the number of people swimming across the river. Yet that is the approach you are taking in discounting the need for cycling infrastructure on commercial high streets. Fortunately we have transportation planners who are more enlightened.

          2. Thomas wrote that “The 1% has far too many rights .. at no cost to them.”

            Fascinating. Roads are paid for by municipal property taxes. So the people who pay taxes in the city are paying for the roads, and they have expressed that they want to see more cycling infrastructure. For someone who doesn’t live in the city or pay property taxes in the city you seem to have a lot of opinions on city infrastructure and freeloaders.

          3. Since less than 1% swim across the Fraser River there is little infrastructure for swimmers for that very reason. Ditto with bikes. Broadway, Kingsway, 4th etc ALL have alternative bike infrastructure nearby yet those entitled 1%-ers demand even more rights for roads they should not be on. Instead of giving bikers more rights there why not disallow them completely in those dangerous throughfares ?

            Also see misplaced / mis-invested bike lanes on SW Marine Drive from UBC to Granville where daily traffic jams are the result to accommodate far less than 1%. This coudl have been a 3 lane road with counter flow lanes like Lionsgate bridge to accommodate the daily traffic to UBC in the am and from UBC in the pm.

            Priorities are misplaced, and with this new act even more traffic jams are the (intended?) results ! Keep the no-biking 99% on these car oriented throughfares in mind, too, please, Jeff !!

            E-Scooters or e-skateboards are not even covered in this new amendment. Why not ? Why not treat them like bikes ?

          4. “even more rights for roads they should not be on.”

            The motor vehicle act is online. Makes for fascinating reading. Give it a try sometime.

  3. My son was right hooked yesterday, cycling back from summer school. Hit the ground; scraped knee; sprained wrist; fork twisted. No one stopped. Captain Hook went on his merry air-bagged, air-conditioned, coffee-sucking way.
    I took this as a learning opportunity. Maybe next time he won’t be cut off. Or injured. Or killed.
    Bus and delivery drivers are the worst culprits.
    I explained that he should have taken the lane; not to be bullied by motorats.
    Yesterday, I was frightfully squeezed by a psycho in a cargo truck. After that, a van driver was thoroughly pissed that I wouldn’t cede him the lane. Note: motor traffic was at a virtual standstill on my nemesis: Kingsway. I was on that hellish road just for minutes.
    Motorats routinely squeeze cyclists. I wish there were more sharrow markings – in green, or pink, to signify vulnerability – and our right to be there.
    Would an education program work? Taking a page out of that obnoxious Charmin commercial where Mr Whipple pounces on customers squeezing the wipes: Don’t squeeze the cyclist!
    When I took drive-ed, we were told not to cock the wheel to the left or right while waiting to turn; the rationale being that if hit from behind, the vehicle won’t lurch into somebody. Quite the opposite to what I see 90% of the time. Not only do motorats cock their wheels while waiting, they have their whole vehicle over the gutter. Nowhere left for a cyclist to pass; bumpers inches from pedestrian knees.
    It is interesting to see how much space there is between vehicles moving parallel – which gave rise to legal filtering. Scares the crap out of me.
    Side note: I’ve encountered motorcyclists zooming along the bicycle “lane” on Cornwall. If they want that part of the tarmac, they can’t do it on rice rockets. Get a bicycle.
    Side note: I’ve been considering the placement of mufflers. My vehicle has it on the passenger side where it spews pollutants on the sidewalk. Diesel buses have it up high on the driver’s side. One might consider requiring all new vehicles sold to have the exhaust pipe on the driver’s side. It would symbolic.

  4. How do I get to shops on those streets? Why would I be restricted from roads I pay for that have the same speed limit as every other street because of two 2hour blocks where the roads are busy? You say its ridiculous to base our cycling infrastructure on 6 months of busyness. I think its ridiculous to base motor vehicle infrastructure on the busiest 1hr period in 24.
    Where are there not any “no cars” signs on 4th ave? 7th ave, 5th ave? why not these?

    1. You cycle on a parallel road (say “Off Broadway” 8th avenue bike lanes, and then push your bike for 1/2 block. This is too much to ask?

      Closing mainly residential roads, like 11th Ave or 7th Ave for cars and make them green streets is indeed a good idea I would welcome.

      We need arterial roads though, and many of them are not good for bikes and good alternatives are available a block or 2 away in parallel for bikes. Not all roads need to accommodate all vehicles.

      1. What’s done in The Netherlands is to determine the purpose of each road/street and redesign it accordingly. Some will be for traffic flow, some will be for shopping, some will be local access, etc.
        I think a big problem is that here arterials have stores along them so what do you do then?

        For Broadway, the post subway era will be a time when it could be different than now. With fewer buses and with an attractive alternative to driving there is no need for it to have so many general travel lanes. The sidewalks could be wider, there could be cycling infrastructure, trees, benches, plazas, etc. The time to think of these things is now otherwise it’ll just get put back the same after.

      2. Either wayt somebody has to spend a couple more minutes on their trip right? A motorist or a person on a bike. Why should the person on a bike give up their time for the motorist’s convenience, when by your reckoning, it is too much to ask for the motorist’s journey to be delayed by safety concerns.

        The assumed privilege demonstrated by this position makes anyone who holds it unqualified to discuss the issue — without some remedial logic lessons and a revisit of the concept of the categorical imperative IMO.

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