e-Mobility gets a different look.
Ace Face has got nothing on me,” this smiling dude informed me the other night while I was strolling Stephen Avenue in downtown Calgary. “I have 18 lights, Ace Face only had 14. More mirrors too.” His scooter is an electric though, while Sting’s is a gas-powered Vespa in the whacky flick Quadrophenia. But Sting (a.k.a. Ace Face) is far too scowly to love… unlike this guy whose name I did not catch.
The encounter with Ace Face.2 was a reminder though when we here at Canadian Biker used to say, “This is a motorcycle magazine. There’s no room for scooters.” That was so 1990s of us. Times have changed. Attitudes have softened. We have embraced the scooterists.
And in truth, why not? As a disruptive force in the transportation system, they are unmatched. Especially the e-scooters such as that ridden by Ace Face.2. They’re fun, cheap (usually), capable, and non-intrusive (usually). Practically anyone can ride a scooter and in the electric format they e-mobility an ever-blurring line between bicycles and ICE motorcycles.
Where does one end and the other begin? It’s a question we continue
to ask. It’s an important one because in terms of human mobility there is a radical change happening now before our very eyes.
But the Canada Safety Council has questions too. When it comes to motor-powered e-mobility devices, power-assisted bicycles, power skateboards, motorized and e-scooters, the Council asks: Should there be regulations for minimum age, parental consent and helmets? Should their operation be prohibited in the public environment? How should these conveyances be regulated under highway traffic acts?
These are all excellent questions, but across this great nation there are no blanket answers. Seemingly every province and jurisdiction has its own legislation. Which is understandable because there is no one size that will fit all of Canada.
But given the proliferation and increasing diversity of e-powered conveyances on city streets and mixed-use pathways, some consensus must be reached.
The CSC has made some recommendations, which we fully endorse. Among them:
Off-Road Use: Motorized recreational devices — such as skateboards, rollerblades and stand-up scooters — that can travel as fast at 32 km/h should not be used on public roadways and sidewalks. Existing regulations for off-road vehicles such as pocket bikes must be vigorously enforced.
Licensing: Traditional motor scooters and mopeds, often used for transportation, are subject to highway traffic acts. Riders should require a specialized licence, permit, – or endorsement on a general licence.
Age Restrictions: Operators of motorized vehicles and devices must be able to make decisions in fast-moving traffic. For riding a motor scooter, power-assisted bicycle or moped on public roads, the minimum age should be 14 years or older with a parental consent requirement.
Education: Public awareness campaigns promoting safe riding practices for all types of motorized conveyances are needed. Riders should also be encouraged to take training.
All of the above are reasonable places to begin the ongoing conversation about e-mobility.
John Campbell Canadian Biker #355