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E-scooters facing change in Kelowna

Lime is ahead of the scooter game, by implementing a street team this upcoming weekend. Lime Patrol members will help aid users with their scooter system, answer questions, and correctly place mis-parked scooters.

Their main goal is to be on the lookout for individuals riding on the sidewalks and issue $25 fines to anyone driving incorrectly.

This comes after the City of Kelowna recently released its e-scooter report on how these new modes of transportation have impacted the city in the past 45 days.

</who>Photo credit: KelownaNowSince launch approximately 77,000 rides have been made which equates to almost 1,700 trips per day in the past month. In a survey done by the city it was discovered that 40-56% of those trips actually replaced driving trips.

With people replacing the car for the scoot in Kelowna, it's estimated that this could take 274,000km of vehicle travel off the road, and decrease vehicle emissions by 50 tonnes each year.

The research showed many environmental benefits, but also shed light on the negatives that have come along with scootering. Some of the most common concerns are improper parking, people riding on the sidewalk, not wearing helmets, people double riding, and operating e-scooters while intoxicated.

</who>Photo credit: KelownaNowTo address these concerns the city has created some recommended actions to scooter companies to better protect individuals zooming down the street. The recommendations are as followed:

-An intoxicated riding pledge or cognitive test will have to be completed before unlocking an e-scooter in the evening to reduce the likelihood of impaired riding. Operators without a feature like this will not be able to operate between 8pm and 4am.

-Late-night riding restrictions will also be put in place. Between the hours of 10:30pm and 4 am, you won't be able to ride a scooter in the downtown area from Sutherland to Recreation and Richter to the lake.

-E-scooters to be restricted to 13km/h along the waterfront and city parks, which is slower than the average speed of a bicycle.

-Sidewalk riding detection is also in the works and could be implemented to deter people from driving on the sidewalk. This action could allow for scooter companies to issue fines to the customer’s account for violating terms of the rental agreement.

-Scooter companies will be required to staff street teams that encourage safe operation of the scooters, educate beginner riders, and deliver fines and warnings to those operating them unsafely.

-Limits on the amount of scooters being delivered downtown will now be brought down to 35% of the companies vehicles, to limit overcrowding and encourage operators to serve in new neighbourhoods in the city.

-A new feature on some of the apps will offer users the chance to take a “Helmet Selfie” which will actually give a discount or provide them with credits for operating safely.

</who>Photo credit: KelownaNowThe scooter industry in years past used to provide free helmets to their riders, but with safety and health concerns it was no longer viable. Soon Kelowna will offer free helmets at the Visitor Centre to ensure a safer ride.

Accompanied with the long list of recommendations came a letter from Interior Health providing additional information about the health evidence linked to scootering.

Interior Health greatly encourages active transportation to increase the physical and mental well-being of individuals, but warns of the potential risks that come with driving a scooter.

</who>Photo credit: 123rfData from Alberta Health Services suggests one person was seriously injured and admitted to the hospital per 100,000 e-scooter rides, and estimated a much higher number of injuries that didn't result in hospital admission, at a rate of one per 1,500 rides.

Although data is still being collected on the amount of injuries happening locally, Interior Health suggests that scooters offer a “novel, convenient, and fun way to get around and contribute to a vibrant community by expanding recreational options.”

For more information on scooters in Kelowna you can look here.

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