Calls arise for review of laws governing e-scooter use in Saskatchewan

A recent Regina Police Service (RPS) reminder that vehicles like e-scooters and electric skateboards are only allowed on private property has many users calling for a legislative change.

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“I think it’s always a challenge for government when you have a new invention or something new that changes, you’re going to have those older bylaws or older traffic acts — pieces of legislation that just don’t quite catch up yet,” said Joel Murray, who owns a Onewheel and e-scooter.

“I think we just have to have that conversation of where do we go through the future.”

Murray sees a number of benefits and advantages to legalizing the vehicles.

“They make a great last mile vehicle. Say you want to ride public transportation, for that last kilometre to your house you just hop off the bus and take your electric vehicle with you,” he said.

“And they’re quite a capable vehicle. They keep up with traffic just like an e-bike would. They have the same kind of top speed, they’re just more portable.”

Murray said their low-carbon footprint also makes them a desirable option for cities pursuing carbon reduction targets.

“I think the other benefit they really serve for municipalities is that you don’t drive into downtown and take up a parking space. It’s good for traffic flow, especially in the cores of cities,” he added.

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Many e-scooters and similar small electric vehicles have safety features like headlights, taillights and horns. Connor O’Donovan / Global News

According to Saskatchewan’s Traffic Safety Act, motorized vehicles like e-scooters or Onewheels, which aren’t built to government safety standards, can’t be registered or insured and therefore can’t be used on public roads.

As such, they’re classified as unlicensed motor vehicles by the city of Regina, which also aren’t allowed on sidewalks or in public parks.

The RPS tweet, which pointed out the relevant Regina bylaw, generated dozens of replies calling for a review of the relevant legislation.

One Twitter user said they purchased a Onewheel to use instead of a conventional vehicle to commute to work.

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Regina Mayor Sandra Masters was asked about the subject Thursday.

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Masters said city administration is actively looking into the matter.

“There’s been that notification…just in terms of this year, we’re not there yet. Both Saskatoon and Regina are looking at it for 2022.”

In a statement, the city of Regina said “our partners at SGI are currently responsible for legislating the use of e-Scooters in Saskatchewan and determining what rules will apply for their use. According to SGI, an e-scooter is considered to be a non-compliant motor vehicle and is currently prohibited on public roads in Saskatchewan.”

“We will be approaching our partners at SGI to understand if legislation can be created to permit e-scooters on roads in Saskatchewan. If SGI legislates e-Scooters for Saskatchewan, the City of Regina will need to undertake a revision to the Traffic Bylaw 9900 to allow for the use within the City and to match the legislation set out by SGI,” the statement continues.

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In a statement, SGI spokesperson Tyler McMurchy said that at this time, the crown corporation “has no plans to recommend a legislative change to the provincial government to allow them to operate in the driving lanes of public roads alongside motor vehicles.”

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“In order to allow them to legally operate on public roads, it would require an amendment to the Traffic Safety Act by the provincial government,” McMurchy’s statement continues.

“Any legislative amendment would have to address some issues regarding safety, particularly for on-road use, inexperienced riders, and riders not wearing the proper safety equipment,” he added.

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Some cities, such as Edmonton and Calgary have developed specific regulations to help allow dockless e-scooter companies like LimeBike to operate.

In Edmonton, for example, e-scooters are allowed in bike lanes, shared pathways, shared streets and roads with a posted speed limit of 50 km/h or less.

Murray agreed that a controlled approach would be right for Regina as well.

“You don’t want to mix these vehicles with pedestrians, they belong on the road just like an electric bicycle. And these aren’t built for Ring Road or Lewvan, but they are built for those residential roads for sure, under 50 km/h. And they’re a high-powered machine, so definitely wear helmets.”

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