OLDS — Town council is looking for a way to accommodate but still regulate e-scooters, those thin, two-wheeled motorized scooters popular in Calgary and Edmonton, and now increasingly seen in Olds.
Administrative staff have proposed allowing them on trails in town, but say current provincial legislation would not allow them on roads or sidewalks in the community.
So under proposed bylaw amendments, people driving those scooters would have to walk or carry them across roads and down sidewalks to get to the trails.
“The issue is because they are prohibited, there’s no insurance and registration on them and if someone gets hit, then we have an issue if they’re on the highway or the roadway,” senior peace officer Sgt. Eric Christensen said during a presentation to council’s July 5 policies and priorities meeting.
Several councillors said it’s unrealistic to expect people to walk or carry their e-scooters across roads or down sidewalks to get to trails, so a suggestion was made that sidewalks be designated as trails, so e-scooter drivers could legally ride on them.
Some councillors liked that idea, but others, along with chief administrative officer Michael Merritt urged caution, saying administrative staff should first look into the potential ramifications of that change before doing so.
“I mean, really, by the time we get this all (figured out) summer’s going to be over,” Coun. Mary Anne Overwater said.
“Not necessarily," Merritt said noting the proposed amendments were only provided to council as a kind of heads-up.
“Maybe we can have something for next week,” he said.
Deputy mayor Heather Ryan pointed out there are many other similar modes of transportation being used around town lately. She wondered how they’d be dealt with.
"What are we going to do? Start regulating every single little thing in this town? It just seems like we’re getting a little bit overboard,” she said.
Coun. Mitch Thomson agreed with that thought.
Christensen said in essence, those other modes of transportation are also covered by provincial legislation. He said they're not allowed on any “highway,” which not only includes streets, avenues and roads, but also sidewalks and back alleys.
“I don't want to take away fun for the kids and outdoor activities. But at that same time, being a motorized vehicle, we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t regulate them somehow, some way,” Mayor Mike Muzychka said.
Coun. Wanda Blatz urged administrative staff to educate residents – including youth – about what the rules are.
“I do think that that would be a good route to go, is to tell kids that we accept them, as long as they’re used properly,” she said.
“But I want to ensure we get some proper education out there for the young people. I don’t want this to go into any kind of negative spin. We want to set a very positive spin on this.”
Christensen said he plans to do so. That will include creating pamphlets about the rules which can be handed out to e-scooter drivers.
He said he anticipates working with Olds RCMP Cst. Morley Statchuk, who liaises with schools, in order to get the word out that way too.