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E-scooter pilot will give Vancouverites socially distant transit option: councillor

Last Updated Jul 3, 2020 at 7:41 pm PDT

In this Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019 photo a women drives an electric scooter on a square in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — One Vancouver councillor says now is the time to bring scooter-sharing to Vancouver.

Sarah Kirby-Yung says plans for a summer 2021 pilot program should be changed and sped up on account of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think with COVID-19 it’s become more important to have choice for people, people are afraid to get back on transit with health concerns and we don’t want everybody to default to getting back into cars or see our car congestion grow. Scooters do provide another choice for people,” she explains.

“This is our opportunity now, with COVID, to shape people’s travel habits and I think it’s a moment in time when we’re really thinking about how we use our public space and how people get around.”

Her motion points out that in Calgary, trips on e-scooters have more than doubled during the first phases of pandemic recovery.

She says the city’s current plan is for a pilot allowing privately owned scooters on public streets, but she says a scooter-sharing program will allow more people to test out a new transportation option.

“I’m suggesting we do a shared program that’s provided by the private sector at no cost to taxpayers. The City of Vancouver licenses it, and then the private company that is selected to provide the service would pay fees to cover the administration costs,” she says.

“I think that will get more people trying them out, it will give us better data for a pilot and help inform the best policy moving forward.”

Kirby-Yung says since other cities like Calgary, Seattle, and Ottawa have paved the way, some of the problems with a program like this can be predicted and prevented.

“Those cities led the way and they’ve learned from a lot of those issues so for things like parking and making sure that they’re tidy on public space, there’s some best practices that have been adopted now to make sure they’re not sort of littered on the streets,” she says, adding speed can be capped by whichever company provides the scooters which is a safety measure that can’t be imposed on private owners.

There’s no need to worry that scooters will detract from the existing bike-share program, according to Kirby-Yung who says scooters compliment but don’t replace other modes of getting around.

Her motion is set to come to council July 7 and she’s asking for the pilot to start this fall.