The brakes have been applied to any move to regulate the use of motorized scooters as the Union of B.C. Municipalities has voted not to lobby for regulation of the personal mobility devices.
The proposal was voted down at the UBCM meeting in Vancouver as delegates faced charges that such regulations would blatantly discriminate against the aged and those with disabilities.
Referring to the proposed regulation of the devices as “profoundly ignorant”, Faith Bodnar of Inclusion B.C., a provincial advocacy group for community living, said that any regulations would “threaten the right of people with disabilities to move around on their streets and communities as equal community members with those who walk, run, or bicycle.”
Mayor Larry Cross disagrees.
“We’ve had some pretty serious incidents in Sidney where people have been hurt,” said Cross.
“We recognize how important these devices are for the mobility of some of our residents and the last thing we want to do is to reduce or restrict that mobility. But we’re also concerned for the safety of all of our citizens.”
Cross emphasized that Sidney’s proposal to the UBCM never mentioned motorized wheelchairs, and that aspect of the discussion came about as a result of an amendment to Sidney’s original proposal.
“It was never our intention to include wheelchairs,” said Cross.
But Cross emphasizes that Sidney has a significantly older population than many other municipalities and that the problems associated with scooter use may have arisen there earlier than elsewhere.
“Other municipalities will be facing this eventually. In some ways Sidney is the canary in the coal mine”, said Cross.
Barbara Brunlees, the manager of Sidney Scooter, feels that regulations wouldn’t work, even if they were enacted.
“We have lots of regulations for motor vehicles, and that doesn’t stop people from driving foolishly,” said Brunlees.
“We prefer to use education and advice as tools to ensure that people are using our scooters safely,” she said.
Brunlees said that the scooters have the capacity to travel up to 20 km/h but that most travel at about half that speed.
“There are also governors that can be used to reduce the maximum speed,” Brunlees said.
For Annie Curtis, aged 80, it’s just a matter of common sense and old fashioned courtesy. She got her scooter four years ago and said that, without it, she simply couldn’t get around.
“I always move to the side for people and have never had a problem,” said Curtis.
“Of course you’ll always have a few bad apples, but then you need to educate them,” she said.
“We already have enough regulations in our lives. You can’t regulate common sense.”