Duncan’s Obie Wilson is concerned about scooter safety in the community. (File photo)

Column: Problem: few laws for scooter drivers

Robert’s column

I was surprised with Obie Olson’s complaint when he showed up at the newspaper office one day last week.

Wilson, a local senior who has been driving his scooter around the streets of Duncan and the Cowichan Valley for three years, had concerns around the safety of scooter drivers in the area.

But it wasn’t the car and truck drivers that scooters have to share the road with that bothered him; it was the driving habits of the other scooter drivers.

“I’ve seen a lot of near misses involving scooters,” he told me.

“It’s only a matter of time before something really serious happens here.”

In fact, unlike most other motorized vehicles on our roads, people don’t need to be licensed to drive a scooter, and the scooters themselves aren’t required to have safety features like lights and blinkers.

The only laws governing scooters are those set out for any pedestrian; which requires them to obey all traffic-controlled signs and use sidewalks as much as possible.

While no one I’ve talked to on the issue can recall any serious injuries or accidents involving scooters in the area, it strikes me how few laws there are to govern the use of one of the machines in the Valley.

I took to the streets of Duncan awhile ago on a scooter with other able-bodied people who had been asked to feel what it was like to be disabled and attempting to get around on the streets and sidewalks in the community.

It was an eye-opening exercise for all of us, and I realized that there is a lot more expertise required to operate one of those things than is apparent to non-users.

They are faster than you think and can get away from you when not paying attention.

I found that out the hard way when I crashed into the back of another scooter while trying to cross a street when the crossing light was still green.

They can also be hard to manoeuvre, which can be trouble for the inexperienced.

There are also few things as frustrating and scary as trying to drive a scooter onto a curb after crossing a crosswalk.

The curbs are lowered on crosswalks to allow wheelchairs and scooters access onto the sidewalks, but it’s sometimes hard to get those front wheels over the lip of the curb, leaving you in front of a car while the vehicle has the green light to proceed.

But all of these concerns stem largely from just not knowing what to do in certain situations, as opposed to there being any technical problems with the scooter itself.

That’s why it bothers me that scooter riders don’t require a licence or any kind of formal training to learn how to operate them safely.

The police urge new drivers to take their scooters to an abandoned parking lot or some other out-of-the-way place to learn how to ride them properly.

But there’s no official to confirm that the skills have been learned properly and the rider is considered capable of taking to the streets and sidewalks with other traffic and pedestrians.

Most of the scooter riders in this area are seniors with loved ones who worry about them, so it would be horrendous if something should happen to them on their scooters while doing their daily chores.

I don’t think scooters should be treated entirely like other vehicles on the road.

But, and I repeat, it would be a benefit for everybody if scooter riders were required to demonstrate that they can operate their machines with at least some proficiency before they are released on the streets.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Striking Western Forest Products workers could lose benefits in September

Union, forest company at odds over Vancouver Island benefit payments as strike enters third month

Flashback: Library concerns, a new park and new seniors plans

Welcome to Lake Flashback. Reporter Lexi Bainas has been combing through old… Continue reading

Take your family to the Cobble Hill Fair this Saturday

Animals, rides, those wonderful displays in the hall, food and fun in store in Cobble Hill

Motor circuit expansion proposal to go to public hearing

North Cowichan gives applications third readings at packed meeting

Firefighters can’t burn down houses anymore, so they need a training facility

In the old days, everyone gathered to watch a ‘practice fire’, safety regulations won’t allow that now

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town rocked by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

B.C. music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

B.C. family stranded in Croatia desperate to come home

Funds being raised to bring back mom and two children

$5-million lotto ticket sold in Nanaimo

Someone matched all six numbers in Wednesday’s 6/49 draw

Most Read