Scooters are human, too

Cranbrook city council debated whether mobility scooters were more vehicle or more pedestrian at Monday's meeting.

They can dash from sidewalk to street, but are mobility scooters a vehicle or a pedestrian?

That question arose in a recent council meeting and city staff was back with an answer on Monday.

“There was a question last council meeting about scooters and what is the legal jurisdiction, and where to they fall,” CAO Wayne Staudt said at the Oct. 20 council meeting. “Bylaw (Services) did some research and a scooter, according to RCMP information, is classified as a pedestrian. So they follow the rules as a pedestrian, whether they be on the sidewalk or the road or anywhere else.

“Because you are in a scooter, you are still considered a pedestrian and not a motor vehicle.”

Mayor Wayne Stetski noted the question does come up quite frequently, but also said the issue is one for the province to decide on.

Coun. Gerry Warner wasn’t so content with the idea of scooters as pedestrians.

“We all know that for all intents and purposes —and legally — bicycles are considered motor vehicles and have to adhere to all rules and regulations that vehicles do,” Warner said. “I’ve never seen a scooter with a set of lights.

“How did the RCMP reach the conclusion that scooters are closer in essence to human beings with legs, when they have four wheels themselves and have motor means of power, be it electricity or whatever and can scoot all over. I think that’s  fundamentally wrong.”

Stetski said that would be a question for the Attorney General.  “I don’t think we can answer that here tonight.”

Warner said they should write a letter to the Attorney General as a council and ask for an explanation.

“It certainly doesn’t make sense to me,” he said. “Scooters can go faster than people walk.”

Warner noted that he’d once ridden one for a story he was covering when he was a reporter.

“It could go up to 15 kilometres. People don’t walk at that speed and to me that makes them closer to a vehicle then it does to a pedestrian.”

Warner said the problem is that there aren’t always sidewalks available to the scooter users so they have to go into traffic. He said having it both ways isn’t a safe situation.

The issue was brought up at the Union of B.C. Municipalities meeting two years ago, but the delegates chose not to take any action.

Coun. Diana J. Scott said the bicycles and scooters differ in one big way.

“The scooter is the person’s legs. That’s why they are using it,” Scott said. “And the person should be on the sidewalk, because it’s safer. The wheels act as the person’s way to get around. Bicycles on the other hand, should be on the roads acting in the same fashion you would drive your car.”