July 01, 2021, Kitchener, Ontario
Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer
Pedestrians are considered the most vulnerable of road users. They travel slowly, and any impact can cause serious damage.
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen the number of Canadians walking, biking, scootering, skateboarding and using other active modes of transport increase significantly. Many walk for exercise while others prefer it to mass transit on their way to shops and work.
As the number of people on sidewalks and bike lanes increases, and as the speeds of travel become more varied, the seriousness of collisions increases. Many scooter riders, e-scooter riders and skateboards do not feel safe on the roads, or in the bike lanes. They may or may not be permitted on sidewalks depending on the jurisdiction but many end up there.
A recent story from Paris, France underscores the danger of the mixed uses of transport on sidewalks. Ontario and many local jurisdictions have been struggling with whether to make e-scooters legal, and if so to determine where they fit into the transportation model for their own safety and for the safety of pedestrians.
The BBC News Reported the following story following the death of a pedestrian after being struck by and e-scooter.
Paris police search for two e-scooter riders after pedestrian killed
French police are searching for two women after the death of a pedestrian who was hit by an electric scooter in Paris, officials say.
The 31-year-old victim, an Italian citizen named only as Miriam, was walking along the Seine early on Monday when she was hit by the e-scooter.
The pair were reportedly travelling at high speed, and did not stop.
The public prosecutor's office has opened an investigation into homicide aggravated by failure to provide help.
The victim, who was reportedly walking with a friend, hit her head on the pavement and suffered cardiac arrest. Divers from the river police patrolling the Seine gave her emergency medical treatment, and managed to restart her heart after 30 minutes.
She was taken unconscious to hospital, where she remained in a coma until her death on Wednesday. Originally from the region of Capalbio, in Tuscany, she worked as a waitress in a small Italian restaurant.
• Europe battles with safety as e-scooters take off
The incident happened at 01:00 local time on the Voie Georges-Pompidou on the right bank, near the Pont au Change bridge. Police have appealed for witnesses and are examining CCTV footage from the area.
The case has renewed the debate over e-scooters in Paris, where there have been concerns for the safety of pedestrians.
They can travel at more than 50km/h (30mph), and are growing in popularity, in part because of their low environmental impact.
In 2019, the French government introduced rules after hundreds of incidents, including several deaths. Riders are required to be at least 12 and cannot ride their scooter on the pavement.
In the UK, London has become the latest city to trial e-scooters. More than 30 areas - including Newcastle, Bristol and Bournemouth - are already operating rental schemes.
Currently e-scooters are being tested as a new technology in several municipalities. According to the MTO:
Under the pilot, the province has set out the broad rules and requirements for e-scooters such as helmet requirements and minimum age. It is now up to the municipalities to pass by-laws to allow their use and determine where they can operate most safely in each unique environment.
Municipalities that choose to permit their use would be responsible for deciding such things as allowing or prohibiting them on municipal roads including parks, and trails; where parking would be located and how e-scooters would be managed in their municipality. The ministry has also developed a best practices document for municipalities to support them in developing their e-scooter program in a safe environment. For reference here is this Best Practices document (PDF - 253 KB).
Ontario’s objective is to create a viable framework for municipalities to allow e-scooters in their jurisdictions.
The pilot is intended to evaluate the use of e-scooters over a 5-year period to examine their ability to safely integrate with other vehicle types and determine whether existing rules of the road are adequate.
Key elements of the pilot
- Municipalities must pass a by-law to allow them on municipal roads
- 5-year pilot
- Maximum speed 24 km/h
- Maximum weight 45kg
- Maximum power output 500W
- Minimum operating age 16
- No passengers allowed
- No cargo may be carried
- No baskets allowed
- Riders must stand at all times
- Bicycle helmet required for those under 18 years old
- No pedals or seat allowed
- Must have 2 wheels and brakes
- Must have horn or bell
- Must have one white light on front, one red light on rear and reflective material on sides
- Maximum wheel diameter 17 inches
- All HTA rules of the road will apply to the operation of e-scooters like bicycles
- Penalties in HTA s. 228(8) will also apply to violations of pilot regulation (fine of $250 to $2,500)
- Not allowed on controlled access highways
For the full list of pilot requirements, please see Ontario Regulation Electric Kick-Scooters.
After the pilot is done
The Ministry of Transportation expects that this pilot framework, in addition to continued discussions with municipalities, will provide the ministry with meaningful evidence to determine whether a permanent framework is warranted. Following a safety evaluation of these vehicles, the ministry will make a long-term decision on whether e-scooters are permanently allowed on road in Ontario.
The e-scooters that are permitted under Ontario’s pilot are the electric kick style scooters.
The scooters can vary in design, weight and speed and there are a number of different configurations that Ontario’s pilot framework would cover. The pilot framework lists all the requirements that an e-scooter must meet to participate in the pilot. Below is an example of an electric kick style scooter.
This pilot approach allows the ministry to establish rules, monitor and evaluate any safety impacts of e-scooters. It is a measured approach that will promote road safety, foster business innovation and open the Ontario market to this new and growing sector. By allowing municipalities to permit the use of e-scooters in their jurisdiction creates more mobility options for Ontarians and demonstrates that the province is open for business by allowing new companies to operate in Ontario.
Municipalities will have the authority to create by-laws to prohibit e-scooters from any municipal areas that fall under their jurisdiction such as sidewalks; where the e-scooter parking would be located and how e-scooters would be managed in their municipality.
While the province is establishing a regulatory framework to define where and how e-scooters can be operated it will be the responsibility of the user/e-scooter company/municipality to ensure that the rider is able to safely operate the vehicle if a municipal by-law is passed to allow their use. Municipalities may require permits or licencing for those e-scooter companies wishing to offer e-scooter rental services and as part of those agreements there may be training requirements as well.