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Advocates call for changes to allow mobility scooters in B.C. bike lanes

Advocates for seniors and people with disability are calling on the province to make it legal to operate mobility scooters in B.C.’s bike lanes.

“We want equal access to everything, we are part of society, and we should have access, especially when governments are providing amenities, so what we would like is for people with disabilities to have universal access, including universal access to bike lanes,” said Susan Simmons, a disability advocate with It’s Your Right.

Under the current rules of the road, only e-bikes and regular bicycles are legally permitted to operate in bike lanes.

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“Everyone else is either in a grey area or technically not permitted,” Victoria city councillor Jeremy Caradonna said.

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Caradonna said the province has amended B.C.’s Motor Vehicle Act to allow mobility aids in the lanes but has yet to create regulations to bring those changes into effect, and is calling for greater clarity on the rules.

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“What’s happened is the technology has advanced so quickly that the law just can’t keep up with it,” Caradonna said.

Simmons said under current rules, people in mobility scooters are technically required to stick to the sidewalk.

But she said that distinction doesn’t work for everyone.

“Sidewalks in Victoria are not universally accessible. They’re bumpy, there are also obstructions, there are telephone poles and things like that,” she said.

“There are going to be some people who want to use a scooter, and be in a bike lane so they can move quickly, and there are going to be some people in a wheelchair or a walker who are going to be on the sidewalk with a friend.”

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B.C. Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said people using mobility scooters are still considered pedestrians under the law, meaning they need to stay out of bike lanes.

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“Having said that, we need clear rules of the road. We are open to any and all ideas,” he said.

“We will need to carefully consider anything that is coming forward.”

The province appears set to face more pressure on the issue. The Capital Regional District will vote next week on whether to press the government on the issue. A similar motion is also in the works at Victoria city council.

“We want everyone on our streets to feel included in these lanes,” Caradonna said. “They’re for everyone.”

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