Olivia Yau is the first to admit that she is not great at cycling.
“Going on the road is scary. It’s not everyone’s business,” Yau says.
About four years ago, he jumped for the first time with a small electric scooter, not much bigger than a skateboard. He has not looked back.
“I can control a lot better. I’m safer,” Yau says.
It wasn’t long after she and her business partner, Ambrose Tham, decided to turn their passion for light and portable transportation into a business, founding Urban Machina, an importer and distributor of all types of e-scooters with its in Vancouver.
“Do you think this is the future of daily commuting?” I ask Yau as he drives a $ 1,350 baby blue Inokin Light, which can travel 22 miles at speeds of up to 25 miles / h, out of the office park’s cargo ship and into the parking lot.
“Yes,” Yau replies. “When I drive, I feel free … I’m not stuck in traffic. It reduces travel time by literally half.”
And both Yau and Tham claim their sales tell the story of growing demand in BC, tripling their year-over-year numbers between 2017 and 2018.
They say the first two quarters of 2019 have been the best.
At the top are scooters like the Evolv Pro, with two engines, a distance of 90 kilometers and a top speed of 65 km / h. It comes with an equally high price tag of $ 2,599.
And it turns out that some of their best customers are seniors, who don’t mind a manager unloading a split bike lane.
“They love it,” Yau says. “They feel like they’re a kid again.”
Electronic skateboards are banned in most BC
But taking a tour beyond private property or specially designated trails in BC presents a problem.
This is because vehicles are not specifically defined in the Provincial Motor Vehicle Act.
Unlike other low-power vehicles such as electric bikes, which do not require a license or insurance, electronic scooters, motorized skateboards and hoverboards travel in a gray area, apparently require insurance, but at the same time are not insurable because they do not comply. provincial safety standards.
This prompted the mayors of Victoria and Kelowna to apply for an exemption in the province to be able to ride electronic scooters on their streets, writing that the lack of definition “has created confusion” and that regulating them like bicycles and e-bikes would be a “sensible approach.”
“Instead of saying it’s illegal, it’s better to regulate it,” he says.
On Monday, the province announced its “Active Transportation Strategy,” which includes a review of the Motor Vehicle Act in the next one or two years to include “emerging modes of active transportation,” such as electric bicycles, scooters and skateboards.
The application of electronic scooters for now is a “gray area”: the police
With hundreds of miles of bike routes in Vancouver, you won’t have to walk long before you see someone e-scooting into the dock or sharing a bike lane.
“Here they are on our radar,” the sergeant said. Jason Robillard, with the Vancouver Police Department.
Technically, that means anyone caught driving on the streets, bike lanes and sidewalks (anywhere except private property with few exceptions) can earn a $ 598 ticket to operate an uninsured vehicle, as one skateboarder learned in 2017.
The city of Vancouver has also banned the use of motorized excavators, unicycles, scooters, skateboards and segways on the park’s dike and trails “to reserve space for active modes such as walking and biking,” it says in this December 2017 note, which the City says is still accurate.
This December 2017 note from the City of Vancouver details what types of non-motorized and motorized transportation can be used. The city says this breakdown is still accurate.
In practice, Robillard says, entries are not written very often and depend on the officer’s judgment.
And while the VPD will not allow breaking the law, it does encourage those who want to “be responsible and respectful of everyone.”
Vancouver is cautiously approaching electronic scooters
Meanwhile, the city of Vancouver says it will continue to focus on the participation of bicycles and electric bicycles until changes are made to provincial regulations.
Scott Edwards, Vancouver’s manager of public street and bicycle use, says he is primarily concerned about the safety and impact of cyclists and others using the existing space.
A recent Consumer Reports Report survey found that approximately 1,500 people have been injured by electronic scooter-related accidents in the United States since late 2017, including broken bones and brain injuries. At least eight people have died.
“Watch out for bumps, cracks and bumps,” Edwards said.
He added that there have been talks with US companies like Lime and local emerging companies like Burnaby’s Bunny, which announces a July 1 release on its website.
Like other disruptive industries, companies that share scooters have had their own proportion of growing pains in U.S. cities.
Some have banned them altogether while figuring out how to control the “clutter” of dockless systems that have caused frustration as vehicles pile up, and in some cases this rage has turned into vandalism and destruction.
“I don’t think it’s a 2020 discussion,” Edwards said. “But it may happen in the future.”
And as Yau steps on his scooter and sinks, he keeps his eyes fixed on this future.
“A lot of people when they see me riding, they ask me where I got it? Can I try it?” she says.
And while she’s not as sure of the rules for catching up as she is in her electronic scanning capability, Yau insists Urban Machina leads the local group.
“Regardless of what the regulation is, the demand is there,” he says.