E-scooter advocate wants regulations as device’s popularity grows in Winnipeg

An e-scooter advocate says the City of Winnipeg should be examining regulations around the motorized vehicles given their growing popularity. Morgan Modjeski reports.

A Winnipeg e-scooter advocate is calling for the city to take a proactive approach to regulating the quick-moving motorized devices, now peppering city streets and sidewalks, stressing the scooters are here to stay.

“Now is the time for the city to put it back on the agenda,” said Rob Kristjansson. “Especially because these things are new and people aren’t quite used to them, and the word scooter implies it’s just a toy, people can get into trouble right?”

Kristjansson is one of the moderators of the e-scooter Winnipeg Facebook group, which currently has more than 350 members and he says now is the time for the city to examine a regulatory framework for the devices.

With no mention of the scooters in the Highway Traffic Safety Act, which dictates and legislates motor vehicles in the province, Kristjansson says the scooters operate in a “grey zone” so it’s been left to riders to regulate their own behaviour, but he says rules should be in place to ensure accountability.

“It’s about behaving responsibly because the last thing you want — heaven forbid — you get yourself hurt, or you get someone else hurt who was just minding their own business. Regulation should proceed with those things,” he explained.

Rob Kristjansson, a moderator with the E-Scooter Winnipeg Facebook group, can be seen with his e-scooter on May 2, 2023. He says the city should have regulations for the motorized vehicle back on the agenda given their growing popularity. (Morgan Modjeski/CityNews)

A statement from MPI explained those riding the scooters are responsible for any damage or injury they may cause while using the vehicle, as they cannot be insured under MPI. However, if a user is injured or had their scooter damaged by an MPI-insured vehicle, they can make a claim with the public insurance provider.

While there is no mention of the devices in the act, the City of Winnipeg indicated the scooters are regulated under the legislation and a 2019 report indicated the city has been doing work to ready for the arrival of the device, but through a vendor-initiated micro-mobility sharing service.

An interview request was not accommodated, but the City of Winnipeg said in a statement while the province’s Bill 21 allows e-scooter and micro-mobility trial programs in the city, there are no plans currently in place, but the City did note it would work with, “any e-bike/e-scooter/bikeshare/micromobility firm interested in developing a sharing service in the city, providing oversight and technical support as required.”

However, when asked about the city’s response, Kristjansson says the municipality should be taking the lead, as the irresponsible riders in between will hurt the community as a whole.

“It’s unfortunate that they are limiting themselves to: ‘Well, if a business will — and let me do my own interpretation of city speak — if a business will take all this risk off us so we don’t have to do anything, we’re more than willing to, well, take your information.'”

In response to a question about the city’s overall message about the general use of these devices by the public, it explained: “We want to see people using them safely and courteously.” Saying they should be ridden like a bike, on the roads as opposed to sidewalks, being courteous to others, particularly pedestrians.

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