Council approves e-scooter pilot program

© Can Stock Photo / CrispyPhotos

Windsor is moving ahead with testing out e-scooters on certain roadways and paths in the city.

On Monday night, council voted in favour of a 12-month pilot program that would allow e-scooters on Windsor’s riverfront trails.

Councillor Chris Holt was behind the motion and said he believed that the riverfront path was a good starting point. Following the end of the 12-month trial, data will be brought back to council to review how the program went and if there were any concerns.

“I believe that’s where everyone wants to be on these e-scooters. If we prepare the riverfront for these and then collect the data to see if it did, in fact, cause the problems that we anticipate, then council has the ability to go forward and go from there,” Holt said. “Let’s move forward on this. Let’s collect that data, let’s see if its right for our community. I believe we’ll be pleasantly surprised.”

During the pilot program, e-scooters will also be permitted to ride on the right-hand side of city roadways or in bike lanes of any roads that have a speed limit of 50 km/h or less. Riding on sidewalks will not be allowed.

This move makes Windsor one of the first municipalities in Ontario to allow e-scooters on roadways. This comes after the Ontario Ministry of Transportation announced that electric scooters would be allowed on Ontario roads beginning on January 1 as a five-year pilot program.  The provincial pilot program regulation only allows e-scooters to operate on roadways under the jurisdiction of a municipality if the municipality approves their use in its by-laws.

Many councillors, including Kieran McKenzie, spoke out in favour of trying something new and bringing an alternative mode of transportation to the area.

“At the end of the day, I see this as another opportunity for us to diversify the transportation mix that we can offer in the community,” said McKenzie. “There’s an equity piece here, there’s an environmental piece.”

In addition to the riverfront trail and low-speed limit roadways, collapsable scooters will also be allowed on city buses during the pilot program. Holt said the decision to link e-scooters with transit service would allow people more freedom to get to and from their destinations.

“The first and last mile is inevitably the most difficult and the thing that keeps people from using buses,” he said. “If we give the opportunity for transit riders for these e-scooters to be that first and last mile, I think it will not only encourage e-scooter usage but it will encourage transit usage as well.”

However, not all councillors agreed with the decision. Jo-Anne Gignac presented an unsuccessful motion to defer the decision, citing safety concerns and not allotting enough time to weigh the pros and cons of the program.

“I would have liked to have seen us take a pause on this introduction into our community,” she said. “I know when we were dealing with the e-bike situation, there was a lot of conversation around the introduction of unlicensed uninsured vehicles into our roadways and what the conflict might be.”

Now that the pilot program has been approved, there are a couple of rules of the road that e-scooter users must adhere to. Operators must be 16 years of age or older and any operators under the age of 18 must wear a helmet. E-scooter speed is limited to 24 km/hr and motor power is limited to 500 watts. E-scooters must be equipped with front and rear lights if they are operated
from one hour before sunset to one hour after sunrise and must also be equipped with a horn or bell. In addition, passengers and cargo are prohibited on e-scooters as well as any seats, baskets, or trailers.

Currently, there are no bike-share or e-scooter sharing programs operating in the city. However, administration is working on establishing parameters that would allow them to do so. A report regarding an e-scooter sharing operator is expected back to council in the near future.