Electric scooter sales strong despite being illegal in Toronto
Published Wednesday, June 19, 2019 8:36PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, June 19, 2019 8:47PM EDT
A downtown store owner says that electric scooters are flying off the shelves, despite the fact that they are not allowed to be used on Toronto roads.
The battery-powered scooters are now one of the most popular modes of transportation in the world. More countries are now using them as part of ride-sharing programs that allow users to rent scooters for short distances.
However, it is illegal to use the scooters in Toronto unless it’s on private property, something Virginia Block of Amego Eclectic warns her customers about.
"We do tell people they are not legal, we recommend the electric bicycles, but people still want them and they still buy them,” Block said.
Block tells CTV News Toronto that the small scooters sell for about $900 and can travel up to 25 kilometers an hour. A licence isn’t necessary to ride one.
Serena Tunge just bought one two weeks ago.
“It’s better than hopping on the bus or streetcar and I don’t have to pay for parking,” said Tunge. “They’re easy to use too. You just pedal, push the throttle and you’re off.”
Bird, a scooter rental company, is seeking to launch a dockless electric scooter sharing service in Canada.
Ryan Lausman says “It's a brand new form of mobility,” said Ryan Lausman, a spokesperson for the company. “If it's too far to walk but too short to drive, a rideshare scooter is a fantastic alternative."
A pilot project is already underway in Waterloo, but the current legislation still does not permit the operations of the electric vehicles on Ontario roadways.
According to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, "electric personal transportation devices, such as electric scooters, are not permitted to operate on roads in Ontario as they do not meet any federal or provincial safety standards for on-road use."
The scooters are so popular in some major U.S. cities that they are raising safety concerns after collisions with pedestrians on sidewalks and users falling off them. Consumer Reports found there have been 1,500 e-scooter collisions within the past two years.
Lausman said that Bird, as well as other electric scooter companies, are working with provinces and municipalities to allow the ridesharing programs.
“Certain changes need to be made to the regulations and the city is working very hard on it because there is a ground swell of interest in this brand new service which has been tremendous,” Lausman said.
The company is optimistic it will get approval and e-scooters will be legal this summer.