Amid complaints, e-scooter companies host safety event next week

Teaching e-scooter safety

Four of the e-scooter companies operating in Kelowna are teaming up to host a safety training event next week, amid growing concerns around scooter-related injuries.

Next Wednesday, Lime, Bird Canada, Roll, and Zip will host the Scoot Safe Kelowna event in Stuart Park, from noon to 3 p.m.

The companies say the free event will be hosted by “trained professionals,” who will help new and inexperienced riders learn how to safely use the scooters.

“Safety is the key to any successful scooter share program and our First Ride training courses have taught thousands of riders in cities all over the world how to ride safely,” said Jonathan Hopkins, with Lime Canada.

“When scooters are new to a community, it can take a moment to help everyone embrace safe community norms. It’s through efforts like this and enforcement for those that refuse to follow clearly-indicated rules that we create a safe program and safe community for everyone.”

The e-scooter program, launched in Kelowna in April, has been met with complaints around their use on city sidewalks, along with concerns about safety. Last month, Kelowna General Hospital's chief of orthopedic surgery Dr. Steven Krywulak called the scooters “fracture machines,” and said they've had to cancel non-urgent surgeries at the hospital due to the increase in scooter injuries.

In a requested report to city council this past week, Interior Health's Dr. Silvina Mema said there has been a “reported rise in injuries” related to the scooters, but it would take some time to compile data on the full impact the scooters have had.

In a press release, Lime, Bird Canada, Roll, and Zip scooters say they have been working with the city to address concerns. They say they've lowered the speed limit of scooters to 13 km/h for first-time riders, issued fines for “non-compliance,” increased resources for enforcement and reparking of misplaced scooters, along with putting in place a “cognitive test” to deter riding while intoxicated.

The companies are also encouraging riders to wear helmets.

“Wearing a helmet is the easiest and most effective way to prevent concussion and protect your brain while riding e-scooters,” said Mia Burgess, CEO of BrainTrust Canada. “BrainTrust Canada staff will be on site on Wednesday to offer helmet fitting education for all attendees.”

Those interested in participating must sign up in advance here. Those who successfully complete the course will be given a free helmet and free riding credits.

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