Obie Wilson is concerned that there will be a serious accident involving a scooter on the streets of the Cowichan Valley.
Wilson, a senior who has used a scooter for three years, said he has seen “many stupid and strange” incidents involving scooters on the roads and sidewalks of the community in that time.
“Many don’t use the crosswalks and I’ve seen a lot of near misses involving scooters,” Wilson said.
“There’s no licensing or road tests for scooter drivers, and there’s no rules for scooters to have lights or reflectors, so they are pretty much invisible to the cars. It’s only a matter of time before something really serious happens here.”
By law, scooters are classified as “pedestrians” and that means that when operating a scooter, riders must obey all rules for pedestrians.
They include using sidewalks wherever possible and if there are no sidewalks, scooters must travel on the far left side of the road facing traffic.
Scooters must also obey all traffic-control signs and devices, including crossing at pedestrian crosswalks and making “eye contact” with motorists or pedestrians before crossing their path to confirm their intention to stop.
Scooter riders can receive fines for disobeying the laws for pedestrians, but it isn’t mandatory for them to attain a licence to drive a scooter, or receive any kind of training.
Blinkers and lights are also just optional.
Jean Scholefield is the manager of Duncan’s non-profit Cowichan Independent Living organization which offers a number of services and programs for those who are living with disabilities in the region, including lending out scooters to clients.
She said that before clients are loaned scooters, they must prove that they are able to drive them properly.
Scholefield said the organization’s scooters are all donated, but most already have blinkers, lights and horns when they arrive.
However, Scholefield acknowledged that people who buy their own scooters or get them from another source don’t require training to operate them, or for the scooters to have many safety features.
“There has been a few scares over the years, but no one that I know of has been seriously hurt in a scooter crash in the Valley,” she said.
“But we would suggest that people take lessons before they begin operating their scooter.”