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

North Cowichan to pay $435,000 for upgrades at Fuller Lake Arena

Chiller and compressor upgrades comes after three deaths in Fernie, BC

Editorial: Permanent state of drug crisis is unacceptable

No indication that the opioid crisis is waning says that what we’re doing isn’t working.

Rubgy keeps Mill Bay’s Ciaran Breen moving

Shawnigan student on national squad for World School Sevens and XV California tour

Candy Cane Cabaret in Duncan an adult show featuring Passion and Performance students

“Our audiences cheer, hoot, holler and enjoy a raucous environment”

Prosecution in Colin John murder trial wrapping up in Duncan

John on trial for stabbing death in Chemainus in 2016

VIDEO: Close encounter with a whale near Canada-U.S border

Ron Gillies had his camera ready when a whale appeared Dec. 7

Retired B.C. teacher a YouTube Sudoku sensation

A retired Kelowna teacher has amassed quite the following online by teaching the art of solving a Sudoku puzzle.

UN chief returns as climate talks teeter closer to collapse

Predictions from international climate expert, warn that global warming is set to do irreversible environmental damage.

Trump’s willingness to intervene in Meng detention roils Canada’s justification

The International Crisis Group said Tuesday, Dec. 11 it’s aware of reports that its North East Asia senior adviser Michael Kovrig has been detained.

Scientist awarded $100K for work on Arctic contaminants that led to ban

Derek Muir has received the $100,000 Weston Family Prize for his research that showed those carcinogens were able to move into the Arctic.

Manhunt continues for France shooter

Suspected gunman named, had long police record

‘Jurassic Park,’ ‘Shining’ added to National Film Registry

“These cinematic treasures must be protected because they document our history, culture, hopes and dreams.”

Vancouver Island man runs 500 km for anti-trophy hunting campaign

The 13-day run saw Giordano Corlazzoli run nearly a marathon a day

B.C. Lions hire DeVone Claybrooks as head coach

Former Stampeders DC succeeds CFL legend Wally Buono

Most Read