Sidney defends scooter safety regulations

Sidney Mayor Larry Cross wants more discussion on the safety and liability issues; denies trying to limit people's mobility

A resolution calling for the regulation of motorized scooter use in the province has advocates mobilizing against the Town of Sidney.

The Town is proposing that the province regulate motorized mobility aids, including wheelchairs and scooters, and require training, testing and licensing of their users. There’s currently no requirement for any of those things in B.C.

The province has indicated to the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) it intends to develop a coordinated plan for safe operation of motorized scooters, including possible amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act.

The provincial coroner in 2008 issued recommendations supporting scooter regulation after several scooter-riding seniors died in crashes with vehicles.

The Town’s proposal was sent to the UBCM, where it was adopted for debate at their conference in Vancouver Sept. 16 to 20 among other potentially controversial resolutions.

The B.C. Coalition of People with Disabilities opposes the idea.

“These are mobility devices that people need to get out into the community,” said executive director Jane Dyson. “Such a regulation would impede their independence.”

Sidney Mayor Larry Cross says it was not the Town’s intent to deny anyone’s access to mobility, especially in a community that has a significant population of seniors and high use of mobility aids.

“We just want everybody to be safe,” he said.

The issue arose out of the Town’s healthy community commission and after complaints over people’s use of motorized scooters were received by the municipality. As well, there have been two deaths in the community since 2008, involving seniors struck by vehicles while they were driving scooters.

Cross said he will lead the discussion on the the issue at the UBCM conference next month, in the hopes of the municipal body asking the province to address their safety and liability concerns through regulation.

Cross said scooters and their owners are treated as pedestrians right now, with no way to enforce safety issues such as speeding on sidewalks or conflicts between drivers and people on foot. He said the Town itself cannot create an enforcement bylaw without some kind of province-wide regulation to make things fair in every community. Cross said he’s hoping debate on this matter will also raise levels of education and awareness and even some incentive for scooter manufacturers and sellers to install warning devices to help avoid on-sidewalk conflict.

– with files from Jeff Nagel/Black Press