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Richmond approves Lime e-scooters and e-bikes

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 10:50 PDT, Thu September 30, 2021

Richmond is moving forward with its e-scooter pilot project thanks to a partnership with Lime Technology, a micromobility service provider.

City council green-lit the proposal in June, and Richmond was approved to participate in the province’s electric kick scooter pilot project in July. People will be allowed to legally ride an e-scooter—an electrically powered kick scooter with a standing platform and steering handlebars—on some streets and paved pathways in Richmond.

The Lime e-scooters have GPS capability, which will ensure riders are observing the speed limits included in the city’s bylaws: 20 kilometres per hour on roads and 15 kilometres per hour on shared off-street pathways. 

Coun. Michael Wolfe said at last week’s public works and transportation committee meeting that he hopes the city will be “quite critical” of speed limits to ensure safety. Wolfe added that some other municipalities have had to lower speed limits that were initially set, and he hopes the city “take(s) swift action if that needs to happen.”

The vehicles are also equipped with technology to help determine if someone is riding on a sidewalk instead of a street, which is prohibited by the city’s traffic bylaw amendment. The Lime system will automatically send that user a message and, if they continue to ride on sidewalks, the program will progress to fines and account deactivation.

In response to a question from Coun. Carol Day, the city’s director of transportation Lloyd Bie noted that the GPS technology will also keep track of the person who was operating a scooter or bike at a given time in case of an incident. That information could be sourced and provided to authorities if necessary.

“I think (the program) is going to be a big hit in the city, but I know particularly the seniors that I’ve spoken to have been really concerned about what happens if (e-scooter or e-bike riders) sneak up on me and I don’t hear them because they’re so quiet, and so that’s my only concern,” said Day.

While the city’s bylaw allows those aged 16-plus to ride e-scooters, Lime only allows those aged 18-plus to rent their vehicles. But committee members were supportive of a motion initiated by Coun. Alexa Loo to write a letter to B.C.’s attorney general, requesting a review of the legislation that excludes people under age 18 from renting e-scooters and e-bikes. 

“The attorney general should, in my mind, at least match 16-year-olds to be able—if you can buy a car, you should be able to rent a scooter and then below that (age) they figure out what the workaround is, whether or not someone can engage in a contract,” she said.

Lime, which launched in 2018, operates in more than 170 cities around the world. Staff recommended awarding the company an 18-month contract to offer both e-scooters and e-bikes for rental. The program could be renewed for an additional 18 months to cover the duration of the three-year provincial e-scooter pilot program.

While six other proposals were received, Lime’s was evaluated as being the best fit for the city. The company will manage, fund and maintain the program, as well as being responsible for installing and maintaining the parking stations. No city funding will be required.

An initial test area will focus on the City Centre area with 153 e-scooters and 63 e-bikes. If that test area is successful, an expanded fleet will include 500 e-scooters and 200 e-bikes distributed around the city. If there is sufficient demand, the fleet could be as large as 1,000 e-scooters and 500 e-bikes.

According to the revised bylaws, e-scooters can travel on roads with bike lanes; local roads (those without lane lines or directional dividing lines with speed limits of 50km/h or less); roads with a speed limit of 30km/h; and off-street paved pathways that are shared with pedestrians. 

The recommendation was unanimously supported at this week’s council meeting. Lime anticipates being able to launch the system about four weeks after contracts are finalized.

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