On New Year’s Day, the Government of Ontario made e-scooters legal under a five-year pilot project – but they may not be allowed in your city. In addition to laying out broad rules and requirements, the project allows municipalities to choose whether or not to permit e-scooters on their streets. Government reps believe the small motorized vehicles will ease downtown congestion and boost the economy; healthcare providers, safety advocates, and personal injury lawyers are more sceptical of the initiative.
E-scooter companies like Bird and Lime have operated in American cities since as early as 2017. Business has been booming; Bird was called one of the fastest-growing companies ever, and large ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft have launched their own e-scooter programs. But critics, including some personal injury lawyers, believe e-scooters put both riders and pedestrians at risk. We discussed some e-scooter safety issues in this blog.
Late last year, CBC News Windsor spoke with Dr. Robert Klever, medical director at the Detroit Medical Center, about e-scooters and the risks they pose. E-scooters have been available in Detroit since 2018, during which time at least 44 serious injuries have been recorded, mostly head traumas. Helmets aren’t mandatory in Detroit, nor are they mandatory for riders over 18 in Ontario, although participating municipalities may choose to impose stricter helmet laws.
“The vast majority of the injuries that we’ve been seeing have been upper extremity injuries,” Dr. Klever said. “Probably the biggest reason we’re seeing these is due to the lack of familiarity with the device.”
At least eight deaths have been linked to e-scooters in the United States since 2017, according to Consumer Reports.
The Province of Ontario has imposed the following regulations under the pilot project:
- E-scooters must have a maximum speed of 24 km/h
- E-scooters must weight a maximum of 45 kilograms
- E-scooters must have a maximum power output of 500 watts
- The minimum age for using an e-scooter is 16
- E-scooters are not permitted to hold passengers
- E-scooters are not permitted to hold cargo
- E-scooters must not be equipped with a basket
- Riders must stand at all times
- Riders under 18 must wear helmets
- E-scooters must not be equipped with pedals or seats
- Every e-scooter must have two wheels and brakes
- Every e-scooter must have a horn or bell
- Every e-scooter must have a front white light and rear red light
- Every e-scooter must have reflective material on the sides
- The maximum wheel diameter for an e-scooter is 17 inches.
It will be up to municipalities to pass bylaws allowing e-scooters and laying out where they can be used, where they should be parked, and how they will be managed. With these regulations in place, the province is confident the pilot project will improve consumer choice and attract business.
“Ontario’s five-year e-scooter pilot will give people a new, clean and green way to get from point A to point B in their communities,” said Vijay Thanigasalam, Parliamentary Assistant to Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney, in a release. “This pilot is another way that our government is giving consumers more choice and making Ontario open for business.”
“Ontario’s e-scooter pilot will help businesses expand, enrich local economies and offer people more options to get around safely,” added minister Mulroney.
Enthusiasm and Concern
Municipalities like Windsor are carefully considering the project. In a blog post, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens urged city council to embrace the opportunity.
“They’re efficient. Affordable. Convenient. Fun. There is a lot to like about e-scooters,” he wrote. “This pilot gives residents more choice and a new way to get around. It also gives the city the opportunity to monitor the program and ensure we safely integrate e-scooters on our roadways.”
But David Lepofsky, chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, thinks the government’s safeguards are woefully insufficient. He would prefer to see riders licensed and insured and thinks e-scooters left in public spaces should be confiscated. He also believes e-scooter companies should be liable for injuries caused by their vehicles.
“As a blind person, I want to walk safely in public,” Lepofsky told the Toronto Sun. “I fear an inattentive, unlicensed, uninsured person, as young as 16, with no training, experience or knowledge of the rules of the road, silently rocketing towards me at 24 kilometres per hour on an e-scooter.”
A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
The arrival of e-scooters on public streets is inevitable, and the province’s rules and regulations may not be sufficient to prevent injuries. If you are injured in an accident involving an e-scooter, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. You may be entitled to compensation.
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