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Electric scooters become ‘street legal’ in Penticton

City joins B.C. pilot project but councillor raises concern over scooters on Lakeshore promenade
Penticton is joining a provincial pilot program that would make electric scooters legal on city streets. (Black Press file photo)

Electric scooters are officially becoming street legal in Penticton and a third party is expected to make them accessible at transit hubs and parking lots.

Council on Tuesday voted to join the B.C. government’s Electric Kick Scooter Pilot Project, which starts on April 5, and makes such modes of transportation legal on city streets. E-scooters will be permitted to travel at a maximum speed of 25 km/h, per the province’s rules.

Local politicians also directed staff to seek proposals from businesses hoping to provide shareable bikes and scooters at convenient locations.

That concept has been met with “mixed reviews” in other communities, according to city staff.

“[Kelowna] has had number of challenges, like not finding docking locations which has resulted in scooters being littered across the community,” said Kristen Dixon, the city’s general manager of infrastructure.

When e-scooters hit Penticton this spring, they won’t serve as anything new to the city’s streets. The mode of transportation has already been used across the community, “albeit illegally,” Dixon said.

There are even downloadable apps that allow people to unlock e-scooters at select Penticton motels. Users pay for their time through a credit card and return it to where they unlocked it when finished.

But the council’s direction to staff on Tuesday now opens the door for businesses to operate such programs on city land and other locations, like malls, bus stops and parking lots.

“The cluttered look of leaving e-bikes anywhere is certainly unattractive but also very convenient,” said Coun. Campbell Watt, before asking whether companies will be responsible for picking up scooters when they are left around.

“Our intention is to avoid clutter and leaving them lying around with no mitigation measures, so we may receive proposals that address it in a variety of ways,” Dixon replied.

Coun. Helena Konanz later noted her concerns over e-scooter safety, particularly on Lakeshore Drive’s popular walkway.

“It is getting so dangerous during the summer months,” Konanz said. “There are scooters just flying by…I would like to see e-bikes or e-scooters coming off the walkway during the summer months and if they are going 25 km/h, they should be on the streets.

Konanz backed up her comments by telling her fellow councillors she would be presenting a notice of motion at a future meeting that addresses her concerns.

Council voted 4-2 in favour of joining the provincial pilot program, and in turn, directing staff to seek third-party proposals. Konanz and Coun. James Miller were opposed.

Penticton’s participation in the pilot can be cancelled at any time, city officials said.

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