Steve Wallace: New tech brings new licensing questions
Let us imagine that you, the reader, are responsible for the regulation of vehicles in Canada and within the province of B.C. How do you intend to treat the various forms of relatively new and novel transportation options?
We all know that bicycles are very popular this time of year. What do you do about electric power-assist bicycles, which have no trouble keeping up with traditional motor vehicles?
They are obviously too dangerous for segregated bike lanes: Travelling at 50 kilometers per hour in a dedicated inner-city lane is dangerous.
Bear in mind the difference between a small-power-assist bike, designed for a rider needing some extra help climbing hills, and a powerful electric-assist bike reaching speeds well above 50 km/h. Should you require licensing for the latter and keep the same standard rules for the former? Your call.
Scooters have become a viable daily travel option for several reasons. The price of gas has motivated people to get a scooter. Most gas-powered scooters need to be registered and licensed.
These are the traditional types that have been around for many decades. Many electric scooters are now on the market. Riders on the low-powered models, with pedals attached, do not have to get a driver’s licence. These models are easily able to keep up with traffic. Should they be allowed on dedicated bike lanes? Should they be restricted to the road and forbidden on bike lanes? If on the road, should they be licensed? Your call.
Skateboards are not as numerous as other modes of transportation, but they are becoming more popular. They are not permitted on sidewalks, and rightly so. They run, or more accurately, roll on the road.The riders are generally extremely skilful and adroit in the operation of this moving balancing act. They act like bike riders and are treated as such. What about motorized skateboards? Should they be restricted to the roadway, or are they better suited in a dedicated bike lane? How do you differentiate between these options for the purpose of government regulation or do you choose not to regulate? Your call.
The Segway is the most interesting ride. They were originally designed for sidewalk travel. The rider stands on a platform holding a handlebar stem and propels through a body balance movement, leaning forward and back. Some of these do not have a stem and are a balancing act. Last week, I saw one of these powered versions travelling on a major Victoria street at about 50 km/h. I did a double take and tried to catch up to the rider, but he was too fast for me and faded into the municipal maze. Is any such vehicle, which can keep up with or is powerful enough to exceed the posted speed limit, subject to licensing? Is there any safety equipment mandatory? Your call.
Mobility scooters are supposed to be restricted to the sidewalk and, where no sidewalk is present, to the side of the road. For various reasons, some valid and some not so valid,
some riders are forced to (or choose to) ride on the road. Riders of these types of vehicles are generally very law-abiding, but there are notable exceptions. Should there be any additional
regulation of mobility scooters on the roadways?
I am no expert on the above modes of transportation. Any errors in naming or identification are entirely innocent.
Steve Wallace is the owner of Joan Wallace Driving School on Vancouver Island. He is a former vice-president of the Driving Schools Association of the Americas,
a registered B.C. teacher and a University of Manitoba graduate.