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Ontario legalizing e-scooters!!! (Bird, Lime, segway, electric kickscooter, micro mobility, electric skateboards)

mdrejhon

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Breaking News: Legalization of electric-assisted kickscooters in Ontario

Ontario is now asking for discussion about escooters (until Sept 12)
This is going to become a very popular thread in 2020 once these are legalized. They are now HUGELY popular in some cities outside Ontario. People are going to be polarized when the Toronto-wide deployment happens. Many are going to fiercely love them, and others are going to fiercely hate them.

So I'm starting this new thread.

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Introduction: Huge boom is occuring outside Ontario
Hundreds of thousands of these kinds of rides have popped up on the streets of some cities as a major disruptive-technology!
These are electric kickscooters that can go roughly bicycle speed (20-25kph) on a tiny battery that's hidden in the kickscooter floor/frames.

201340

This is one of the world's most popular "segways", outselling those expensive tourist segways by several orders of magnitude, and are now a part of public scooter-share systems already running in Edmonton, Calgary, and Montreal, which just started up this year.

Some scooter-share fleets are bigger than bike-share fleets in some cities
Huge escooter-share fleets are now deployed in many cities worldwide, far bigger than some bikeshare fleets. The two most popular scootershare systems are Bird and Lime which have also come to Canada (outside of Ontario)

Illegal to ride anywhere in Ontario, but this is going to change
Ontario law is behind the times, no matter what party affiliation. The electric kickscooter craze hit many cities worldwide, but not Ontario yet.... because right now illegal -- not allowed on roads, not allowed on bike lanes, not allowed on sidewalks. Hundreds of thousands of these have flooded cities worldwide. Even Best Buy Canada has started selling them (e.g. Ninebot by Segway ES2 that weighs only 12 kilograms but goes 25kph -- currently going for only ~$629 CAD at Best Buy Canada -- the price of a bike) despite it being illegal to ride anywhere in Ontario. Which is kind of silly for a plain kickscooter with a small battery attached! They should at least be allowed somewhere with reasonable rules.

Sudden new mobility option
In addition to bikeshare, carshare, rideshare, etc. It was only recently that it was possible to put tiny Tesla-style lithium batteries in the floor of an ordinary kickscooter -- and turn them into powered kickscooters that can go as fast as a bike -- with enough electric range to go between Etobicoke<->Beaches and back -- in a "mobility ride" -- that weighs only as much as a school backpack. That technology was not here until today. So Ontario law (August 2019) is behind the times.

Many escooter-share systems have already come to Canada
These scooters have arrived in Montreal, Calgary, and Edmonton this year. I have used them in other cities during business trips (including Louisville, Kentucky and San Jose, California). Instead of expensive large segways, they are simply common kickscooters that have been elecrified with powerful lightweight batteries.

Summary
  • I never ridden a scooter in my life until I ran into these in other cities.
  • They are fun to ride and are a useful addition to mobility solution.
  • Some cities permit them only on roads
  • Some cities permit them only on sidewalks
  • Most cities permit them anywhere bicycles are allowed.
  • They go up to ~25kph though most cities electronically limit them to 17kph or 20kph
  • They are kick-assisted; you have to kickscooter them up to a specific speed before you can activate the electrical boost feature.
  • Many electric kickscooters are merely the weight of a school backpack full of textbooks.

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Some models are so small they fold into a backpacks:

201350
 

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mdrejhon

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Here’s a textbook case of regulation and legal differences.

Montreal:
(Just arrived August 13th)
  • Electronically Speed Limited To 20kph
  • Allowed on Roads (except roads with posted >50kph speed limit)
  • Allowed in Bike Lanes
  • Allowed on Multi-Use Trails
  • Not allowed on sidewalks
  • Helmets Mandatory
Calgary:
(Just arrived late July 2019)
  • Electronically Speed Limited To 20kph
  • Not allowed on roads (except in bike lanes & cycle tracks)
  • Allowed in Bike Lanes
  • Allowed on Multi-Use Trails
  • Allowed on Sidewalks
  • Helmets Not Mandatory
Two Cities.
Same Scooter.
Same Brand Scootershare.
Totally Different Rules.


Note: Personal opinion is that this will be city-dependant
-- Cities with dangerous roads but wide bike-allowed sidewalks/trails, could allow them on bike-allowed sidewalks
-- Cities with safer roads with lots of bike infrastructure, could allow them on roads
-- In all cases, a weight limit and electronic speed limiter should be used.
 

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mdrejhon

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Many city councillors are already doing it. For example, Hamilton Ward 8 city councillor rides his electric skateboard to work everyday

CBC: This councillor rides a motorized skateboard to work - and it may just be the future


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Alas, ye olde ancient Ontario law is messed-up about this ride (interpretion: illegal) --

Nontheless, many rides -- even city concillors -- and nobody cares as long as he's riding in a "looks legal" area (he rides these rides where non-electric skateboards are also allowed). It's even hard to tell if it's electric or not! This ain't a motorcycle or a Vespa.

Needless to say, he's in huge favour of legalization and regulation (e.g. built-in electronic speed limiters) -- This will help police/authorities to know where they are legal & where they are not.

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By popular demand, Ministry of Transportation has extended consultation until September 12th, 2019.

*Update (August 29th @ 6:30pm): The Ministry of Transportation has heard feedback from stakeholders and the initial two day consultation has now been extended! The new deadline for input is September 12. We are pleased that this change has been made.
 
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mdrejhon

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Link to Electric Kickscooters on Ontario Ministry of Transportation
Comment period through September 12th, 2019

Proposed Ontario Rules -- Ministry of Transportation (MTO)

Kick Style Electric Scooter (E-Scooter)

Background:

The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) is strongly committed to promoting the highest standards of safety for all Ontarians who travel on our roads, including drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians, and will continue working with all our partners on measures that enhance this objective. Trends and technology are evolving, with new forms of vehicles such as e-scooters entering the market.

MTO is interested in new and environmentally-friendly vehicles, however it is important that new vehicles are constructed with appropriate safety features to allow safe integration with all other road users.

MTO is considering the following proposal and invites you to submit your comments for consideration.

E-Scooters

E-scooters have been launched in more than 125 cities across the United States. They represent a new way for residents to get around their communities, are seen as providing first and last mile connections to transit, and represent an opportunity to reduce traffic congestion.

E-scooters are currently not permitted to operate on roads in Ontario as they do not meet any federal or provincial safety standards for on-road use. These devices may only be operated where Ontario's Highway Traffic Act (HTA) does not apply such as private property.

The ministry is interested in exploring the feasibility of these vehicles safely integrating with other road users while promoting road safety and fostering business innovation in the province.

MTO is soliciting public comment on potentially permitting the use of e-scooters on roads in Ontario as part of a pilot project. This will allow the ministry to ensure e-scooters can be safely integrated with other road users before a final, permanent, regulatory decision is made.

Proposed E-Scooter Pilot Framework:

Pilot Duration:

The length of the pilot will be for a prescribed period of 5 years, to ensure sufficient time to effectively monitor and evaluate the pilot results.

Operator/Rider/Vehicle Requirements Include:
  • Can operate on-road similar to where bicycles can operate; prohibited on controlled access highways
  • Minimum operating age 16
  • Bicycle helmet required for those under 18 years old
  • No passengers allowed
  • Maximum operating speed 32 km/h
  • No pedals or seat allowed
  • Must have 2 wheels and brakes
  • Maximum wheel diameter 17 inches
  • Must have horn or bell
  • Must have front and back light
  • Maximum weight 45kg and Maximum power output 500W
Data Collection:
Municipalities to remit data to the province, as requested

Link to Electric Kickscooters on Ontario Ministry of Transportation


_____________________




Mark Rejhon's personal commentary:
- 32kph? Eeek. 25kph is fast enough without a helmet, thank you.
- Lighter-weight lower-speed class (Bird, Lime, backpack sized) should be allowed in multiuse trails as well as "bike-allowed sidewalks"
- Multiuse-trail-class should have a limit of 20kph or 25kph and a weight limit of ~20kg max; in other words, less likely to injure a pedestrian than a bike
 
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mdrejhon

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Bird e-scooters are already in Toronto:
Good catch!

But not yet. It's a preannouncement of a tiny area-limited trial that will arrive in September.
This appears to be only a sand speck trial.

The geographical area of a scootershare system in many cities is as big (or bigger than) Bike Share Toronto's footprint!
So you see scooters *everywhere* more often in some cities than a bikeshare bike.

That said, bigger scootershare trials will probably happen in 2020 because that's a full summer season. Expect Lime/Bird to flood Toronto with thousands of scooters next year (probably). Lime/Bird has been deplying their scootershare systems without any funding from municipal governments, so it's been tempting for many cities.
 
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crs1026

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I hope there are no dumb questions, so I will ask.....

How are these charged? How long is the charge time? Is there potential for charging stations in various locations, similar to ecars?

Can you point to a good link or two to educate one's self about these?

- Paul
 

Tuscani01

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I really hope this doesn't become a thing here. I was just in Lisbon and the city is such a mess of scooters these days. The already narrow sidewalks are even more impassible now. Add to that dockless bike sharing from Uber. It's just a mess.
 

reteequa

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I hope there are no dumb questions, so I will ask.....

How are these charged? How long is the charge time? Is there potential for charging stations in various locations, similar to ecars?

Can you point to a good link or two to educate one's self about these?

- Paul
From what I have seen on YouTube, residents can sign up to pick up scooters whenever they want and charge them. You get paid a certain amount per bike or per hour charged. Not to sure this is the same everywhere but I will look into it more.
 

adHominem

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They're a great idea in theory , though the balance between helpfulness and annoyance varies from city to city. They were all over Portland when I was there last year, and the sidewalks there are pretty narrow, so when people were thoughtless (ie, all the time) and just left scooters lying about it was annoying. But I was in Detroit a couple months back and they were amazing there – Detroit's transit isn't great, and these filled a gap really well - to just get up the street a couple of km tons of people would grab a scooter and zip along. The sidewalks there are often super wide and there were not a ton of people out walking, so there was lots of space for them. I suspect in Toronto using them won't be ideal, given how busy our streets are and how stingy our public realm is (narrow sidewalks, few bike lanes, potholed roads). They'd probably be super useful in Hamilton.
 

crs1026

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The big big question seems to be - are they sidewalk friendly? I have no experience but at first glance I would expect e-scooters to coexist with bikes, rather than with pedestrians. The sidewalks should be for people on foot, who don't need to collide with anything that is moving faster. That assumes that we continue to enlarge and improve bike lanes and bikeways, of course - but in theory the speeds would seem to be more compatible and the need for protection from cars (and from pedestrians) is similar.

- Paul
 

KevinT

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We had a Lime scooter pilot in the Research & Technology Park / Laurel Trail area of Waterloo for a one year period that just wrapped up a few weeks ago. They were a great last-km connector from bus stops in R&T Park to the tech businesses there, and also a huge hit with the university students. The pilot area was GPS enforced with the scooters dropping to 20-30% of their top speed if you strayed outside the pilot zone. Despite their 'no faster than walking' pace outside the pilot area, I saw students riding (and parking, grrr...) them 10 blocks away from the pilot zone regardless. (In my mind the scooters should have reverted to kick-only once more than 50 metres outside of the pilot zone, but perhaps this was deliberate subversion on the part of Lime to do it how they did.)

I took several lunchtime joy rides to Waterloo Park and back, and occasionally even used them as a legit last-km connector from the iXpress bus to the office before the much more convenient (to me being on Phillip St) R&T Park ION station entered service on June 21. Like you @mdrejhon, I had never ridden a scooter before these things appeared but I was a quick convert. The Lime shares weren't cheap for lengthy joy rides (although that didn't stop me from having a few) but made sense as a transit connector, and I'd have no issues at all with this type of scooter being legalized province wide.

I can easily see taking a personal e-scooter onto a bus or LRT (provided the handle folds so you can stand it vertically with a minimum additional footprint) being a game changer for public transportation. Sure I can (and regularly do!) take my bike onto the ION LRT, but the bike's footprint is far from minimal which keeps me off the peak trains with it. (There's no rule, I just wouldn't fit half the time but fortunately keep a work schedule that makes it a non-issue.) Bring on the e-scooters!
 

mdrejhon

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I really hope this doesn't become a thing here.
@Tuscani01 and @TransitBart
It will arrive, guaranteed -- it's kind of a drug more powerful than bicycles.
Once they arrive, they tend to not leave. (It's a drug more powerful than Uber)
Many people fall in love, myself, as well as everyone else (see below for example)

If you hate them (eco, pedestrians, scorge, whatever) then please just help out to make things better.
--> Find ways of compromise (e.g. allow them only on cycle lanes). Don't completely ban them.
--> They are coming, guaranteed -- falling costs -- technology -- tiny batteries -- etc -- so it is useless to hope-them-away.
--> Durability is even improving so the newer models last much longer (unlike early Bird/Lime) and now-shrinking lifetime carbon footprint (cradle-to-grave).

Like you @mdrejhon, I had never ridden a scooter before these things appeared but I was a quick convert.
Exactly!
Same for me. Hell, I liked them enough I'd even start an advocacy and get hundreds to demand them -- like some advocacies in other cities did.
But that's not necessary: Ontario has agreed to legalize them.

I was just in Lisbon and the city is such a mess of scooters these days. The already narrow sidewalks are even more impassible now. Add to that dockless bike sharing from Uber. It's just a mess.
Very important questions: Have you visited multiple cities and compared them?
Montreal has much stricter laws than Lisbon -- much stricter.

Montreal introduces electric scooters with stricter regulations than Calgary

The apps are very flexible. All the scooters have built in LTE with GPS trackers so they are all remotely tracked. When you end a scooter rental, you are charged until you actually photograph the scooter in its final parking spot, and can be geofenced to proper parking areas or the user is penalized a charge or even unable to end their rental.

Just like comparing 2 bikeshare cities, they can be a mess in one city, and beautiful in another city.

Also reflecting my very point that scooter messes are not equal is also what he said:

They're a great idea in theory , though the balance between helpfulness and annoyance varies from city to city. They were all over Portland when I was there last year, and the sidewalks there are pretty narrow, so when people were thoughtless (ie, all the time) and just left scooters lying about it was annoying. But I was in Detroit a couple months back and they were amazing there – Detroit's transit isn't great, and these filled a gap really well - to just get up the street a couple of km tons of people would grab a scooter and zip along. The sidewalks there are often super wide and there were not a ton of people out walking, so there was lots of space for them. I suspect in Toronto using them won't be ideal, given how busy our streets are and how stingy our public realm is (narrow sidewalks, few bike lanes, potholed roads). They'd probably be super useful in Hamilton.
Compare Portland to Detroit. Night and day.

My experience is similar.
I visited 4 scooter cities already!
1 was super messy,
1 was super-neat,
2 others were tolerably in between (to varying extents).

I think downtown Toronto will be challenging (will need Montreal-style strict rules).
They'll really be useful in Toronto as long as it uses the strictly park in GPS-geofenced parking areas. Say, you'd have to scooter to a plentiful parking corner at Nathan-Philips and not park willy-nilly at Yonge-Dundas. You'd get charged a penalty fee for parking outside geofences. The apps do that already in some cities. That quickly forces users to park more properly. Things like that. And it's perfectly fine.

But the Etobicoke, Beaches, York, Vaughan, Oakville, etc will be amazing.
Last mile connections in Oakville. Hamilton. Etc.

They are coming and some will get addicted to them.
 
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Neutrino

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If average walking speed is 5 km/h, how much can these scooters average in a 10 minute ride?
 

mdrejhon

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If average walking speed is 5 km/h, how much can these scooters average in a 10 minute ride?
A 10 minute ride will send you about 4 kilometers on an e-scooter in Louisville, Kentucky.

In Lousville, they were configured to an electronic speed limit of ~16-17 mph which meant I was going 25-27 kph on multiuse trails -- the speed of furiously pedaling the top gear of many average bicycles. I was slowly overtaking 75% of bicycles, with the other 25% slowly overtaking me. So I was "going with the flow" of bicycles.

This leads me to believe that these e-scooters belong on bike infrastructure, because the speeds are so similar. So allowing e-scooters anywhere bicycles can go is fine, as long as the e-scooters are limited to be lighter/smaller than a bicycle (for pedestrian safety) with a mandatory built-in electronic speed limiter that caps your top speed.

I'd settle for a 20kph limit (more pedestrian friendly) though 25kph is okay (for wide multiuse trails). I get scared if I go too fast, so I often throttle down -- I prefer to be able to jump of the scooter running.

They can be cheaper than Uber if you do an express trip on them. In one city, I travelled the equivalent of all the way from Park Lawn to The Beaches in about an hour on an electric kickscooter (~20km). You can't walk that far in one hour. There's enough battery range in them now (lithium) to do such a trip, and to do it in just an hour, and one hour of scooter rental is cheaper than a Uber ride.

While cheaper than a Uber for short distance drips -- it adds up a lot because you get addicted to them, and use them multiple times a day. This has caused some Bird/Lime users to finally buy their own electric kickscooter or electric pedelec, which now commonly happens in many scootershare cities. These scooters amplify bike use too. Your outgoing leg might be a JUMP escooter, but if you can't find one to rent for the return trip you could grab a JUMP bike back. And this can also invariably lead to bike purchases too. (JUMP does both scooter-share and bike-share too.)
 
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