Where can I legally drive an electric scooter, hoverboard or electric unicycle?


There are several pilot projects – including programs in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec – that allow electric scooters to circulate in public spaces.

Gavin John / The Globe and Mail

There are all these battery-powered devices now that I see people riding on the sidewalks, on the streets, on the dyke and in the bicycle lanes. There are electric scooters, electric skateboards, hoverboards, and these one-wheeled electronics. Some of them seem to go pretty fast. Where exactly are people allowed to take them to? Are they allowed anywhere? – Jeanne, Vancouver

The growing interest in “E” products may be great for electric vehicle adoption, but it is certainly not everywhere.

Although the rules vary by city and province, electric skateboards, hoverboards, electric roller skates and electric unicycles are generally not allowed on public roads, sidewalks or cycle paths.

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In many cities, this list of technically prohibited devices includes electric scooters.

In Vancouver, for example, you can ride human powered skateboards, scooters, or unicycles on bike paths and roads – but once they have an engine, you can’t.

This is because although British Columbia Motor Vehicle Act defines battery-powered devices as motor vehicles, they do not meet provincial equipment safety standards for use on the road, the city said in an email.

In Vancouver, the fine for driving a hoverboard, electric skateboard, electric scooter or other device on the road, sidewalk, dike or bike path could go up to at $ 600

The police can decide which laws to charge you, including driving a motor vehicle without insurance. But Vancouver police said they tended to “educate as much as possible before issuing tickets.” They did not immediately provide information on the number of tickets they gave away.

Meanwhile, Montreal police said in an email that between May 1 and August 10 of this year, 19 tickets were issued for operating electronic devices, including electric scooters, on public roads. (a fine of $ 174) and 13 tickets for driving them on bike paths (fine of $ 44). Police in Calgary and Toronto did not immediately respond to their numbers.

The different devices are part of a transportation trend called micromobility, which includes vehicles that are smaller than a car, motorcycle or moped, including pedal bikes.

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The idea is that they allow you to get around without hopping in a gasoline car.

Depending on the local power source, battery-powered micromobility vehicles could potentially reduce traffic congestion and carbon dioxide emissions that cause climate change.

As sales of electronic devices increase, technology is changing faster than the law, said Tom Bramble, owner of Vancouver Electric Unicycles, an online retailer.

“It’s definitely a gray area,” said Bramble, an IT professional who has been selling electric unicycles since his first drive in 2016. “Three years ago I had a few customers who got ticketed. for operating a motor vehicle without insurance – which they disputed and this was reduced to not wearing a helmet. “

Bramble said it requires buyers to sign a waiver ensuring they are using the one-wheel device – which is the size of a briefcase and can, depending on the size of the battery, travel up to 150 km with a charge – responsibly and follow local laws.

Bramble said he had not heard of any buyers securing tickets in Vancouver in the past year. Realistically though, if you can’t drive them on the roads, sidewalks, or trails, private ownership may be your option.

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E is for exceptions?

There is already an exception for electric bicycles, which are mostly allowed wherever bicycles are. But there is more and more another exception: electric scooters.

There are now several pilot projects – including programs in Before Christ, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec – which allow electric scooters to circulate in public spaces.

The exact rules depend on city and province, although they tend to be complicated. Alberta, for example, allows you to drive shared electric scooters in public, but not private electric scooters. Even then, the rules differ from city to city: for example, Calgary allows electric scooters on sidewalks, but Edmonton does not have.

In British Columbia, Vancouver is one of six cities in a pilot project that will allow electric scooters on bicycle lanes and on residential streets that have no lanes and where the speed limit is 50 km / h or less. This pilot is expected to last until 2024, but scooters will not be allowed on sidewalks and will not be able to have motors that can go over 24 km / h.

The rules will be similar to those for e-bikes: cyclists won’t need a driver’s license or insurance, but they will need to be at least 16 years old and wear a helmet.

At least two cities in the pilot, Vancouver and North Vancouver, don’t allow shared electric scooter programs – which allow users to pick up and drop off scooters using an app – but they do allow people to legally drive their own scooters.

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“We expect electric scooters to be legal in September, once the province and council approve the appropriate regulatory changes,” the city of Vancouver said in an email. “Rentals and shared programs are not part of the pilot at this time, but could be considered in the future once safety, accessibility and other considerations are better understood. “

In Ontario five year old pilotIt’s up to cities to pass regulations to allow the use of electric scooters and define where they can operate, the province said in an email.

Toronto, for example, chose not to join the pilot. The reasons included worried about how to insure devices and how difficult it is to enforce the rules.

The move means electric scooters aren’t allowed anywhere in Toronto except on private property, at least technically.

Electric unicycle seller Bramble believes the rules will eventually catch up with demand for the devices.

“I think once there is sufficient public support they will have to be adapted rather than just banned,” Bramble said. “Anything that gets people out of cars is good. “

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A question about driving? Send it to [email protected] and put “Driving Concerns” in your subject line. Emails without the correct subject line may not be answered. Canada is a big country, so let us know where you are so we can find the answer for your city and province.

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