A Vernon councillor’s enthusiasm for the city’s scooter program hasn’t waned even after a scooter ran into her parents’ car, causing damage.
“An e-scooter ran into my parents vehicle and caused significant damage to that vehicle,” Coun. Kari Gares said Monday while expressing support for the program.
“My parents had to pay the deductible through ICBC because, of course, the person driving the e-scooter was underage.”
Council agreed to extend its contract with Neuron Mobility to provide e-scooters and e-bikes for rent to April 5, 2024, under a provincial pilot program.
Christopher Carroll, Neuron’s operations manager for Vernon, said the company tries to prevent riders under 16 from using its scooters and called on people to contact the company any time they see an underage rider.
“The No. 1 complaint in the community is always younger riders on the scooters,” said Coun. Akbal Mund.
“Age is definitely an issue,” said Carroll. “We do see it and are aware of it. It all comes down to reports to us. So if we’re seeing underage riding, if people are reporting it to us, we can find out which accounts that is happening on and ban the accounts entirely.”
Gares gave the program a glowing endorsement, despite some problems.
“I think I had heard some incidents of maybe someone trying to light one of your e-scooters on fire, but all in all it is a great organization, it’s a great service for our community. It falls in line with our climate action plan. I’m quite happy that we’ve committed to having this program available for our residents,” she said.
The company has had preliminary meetings to discuss expanding into Coldstream, Carroll said after councillors asked about it.
Carroll said the company has 350 scooters – 100 more than last year. Fifty e-bikes were added to the fleet this year, but there is not enough demand to add more bikes.
Five users in the past year and a half have been hospitalized, he said, responding to councillors’ questions
Unique to Vernon, more than half the users use the bikes for commuting, he said.
More than 170,000 rides have been taken on Neuron’s Vernon scooters and more than 400,000 kilometres travelled. More than 26,000 people in Vernon have signed up for the company’s app. The average trip is 2.25 kilometres, Carroll said.