Two e-scooters parked on the sidewalk along Water Street in downtown Kelowna on Monday, May 3. Scooters parked on walkways are causing accessibility issues for some people with disabilities. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)

Two e-scooters parked on the sidewalk along Water Street in downtown Kelowna on Monday, May 3. Scooters parked on walkways are causing accessibility issues for some people with disabilities. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)

Improper e-scooter parking causing accessibility issues in Kelowna

E-scooters parked in the middle of walkways can limit accessibility for people with disabilities

While the City of Kelowna is touting e-scooters as a viable new way to get around town, they are posing new obstacles for some residents with disabilities.

Under a three-year provincial pilot program, Kelowna residents and tourists are now allowed to use the city’s road and shared-pathway networks to scoot around on shared or privately-owned electric scooters.

For Spring Hawes, who lives with tetraplegia and uses a wheelchair to get around, the scooter sharing programs are presenting an issue — specifically regarding parking. She says for herself and other Kelowna residents with disabilities, improperly parked e-scooters can limit already restricted means of transportation.

Since the launch of e-scooter sharing programs in Kelowna in mid-April, several people, including Hawes, have taken to social media to show photos of scooters parked in the middle of narrow walkways in a way that makes it difficult or impossible for some people to get around them.

“I’ve seen many times where they’re just left in the middle of the sidewalk and they’re literally completely blocking the sidewalk,” said Hawes.

“That’s a very obvious barrier — not just for people in wheelchairs, but for all kinds of people who wouldn’t be able to get around them.”

Hawes said she’s not opposed to the idea of e-scooters, but with the ‘dockless’ system offered by local operators, scooters will continue to be left in inappropriate areas.

“If there’s no garbage can, people will still throw their garbage out; if there’s no place to leave a scooter, people will leave it wherever it stops.”

READ MORE: E-scooters will soon be allowed on Kelowna roadways under provincial pilot program

READ MORE: Kelowna council dismayed by lack of EV chargers at Costco’s ‘24-pump mega station’

The City of Calgary experienced similar parking-based problems throughout its two-year pilot program for shared e-bike and e-scooter programs. According to the city’s final report on the pilot from December 2020, staff fielded 255 calls over e-scooter parking issues in 2020 and Calgarians listed parking as their third top concern in a survey on e-scooters.

To address the accessibility issues posed by improperly parked scooters, Calgary implemented 30 parking zones in high-use areas in 2020. Still, those zones experienced relatively low usage with around 2.5 per cent of trips ending in the zones, despite 10 per cent of e-scooters being deployed there by operators.

“If there were more parking zones and incentives to use them, usage would likely increase,” staff wrote in the report.

City of Kelowna mobility specialist Matt Worona says growing pains are to be expected with substantial programs like this, and expects adherence to parking guidelines to improve as people become more familiar with them. Through the first week of the programs running in Kelowna, Worona says around 13 per cent of scooters were parked improperly.

“We hope to see that number trend downwards,” said Worona. “It’s not where we want to see it today, but we think we can get it to a better level.”

Much like in Calgary, operators in Kelowna will be handing out $10 fines to riders who park improperly. Users have to send a photo of their parked scooter to the operator using the app and park jobs deemed out of line will net fines.

“The first time, they get a warning. The second time they get a fine and if you continue on (parking improperly), you can get booted from the service.”

Worona is reminding users of any of the city’s three shared scooter programs, Lime, Roll or Zip, that helmet use is mandatory, scooters are not permitted on the sidewalk and riding drunk is not allowed.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com


@michaelrdrguez
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

E-Scooter program

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Left: Smoke billowing 20,000 feet above Hiroshima while smoke from the burst of the first atomic bomb had spread over 10,000 feet on the target at the base of the rising column. Right: Atomic bombing of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, taken by Charles Levy from one of the B-29 Superfortreses used in the attack. (Photo via Wikipedia Commons)
TAYLOR: Visualizing invisible dangers

Kelowna Art Gallery exhibit BOMBHEAD reminds of the dangers of nuclear destruction and radiation

Oliver Stankiewicz, pictured with his parents David and Laura, will run 100 kilometres Sunday, May 9, in support of the McMurtry-Baerg Cancer Centre at VJH. (Contributed)
Man on the move for Mother’s Day in Vernon

Virtual run supporting McMurtry-Baerg Cancer Centre at VJH

(Kingfisher Boats photo)
In the market for a boat in the North Okanagan? Be prepared to wait

Vernon’s Kingfisher Boats is out of 2021 models, with many 2022 models already pre-sold

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
57 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

Thirty people in the region are in hospital, 16 of whom are in intensive care

A hummingbird gives its wings a rare rest while feeding in a North Okanagan garden. (Karen Siemens/North Okanagan Naturalists Club)
Hummingbirds back for another Okanagan season

North America’s littlest birds return, and they’re hungry

Jose Marchand prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is coming under fire after contradicting the advice Canadians have been receiving for weeks to take the first vaccine against COVID-19 that they’re offered. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Trudeau says he is glad he got AstraZeneca, vaccines are only way out of pandemic

‘The most important thing is to get vaccinated with the first vaccine offered to you’

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Dip in COVID-19 cases with 572 newly announced in B.C.

No new deaths have been reported but hospitalized patients are up to 481, with 161 being treated in intensive care

Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)
UBC parkade project to use solar energy for hydrogen vehicles

Demonstration project gets $5.6M in low-carbon fuel credits

FILE – A student arrives at school as teachers dressed in red participate in a solidarity march to raise awareness about cases of COVID-19 at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. ‘should be able to’ offer 1st dose of COVID vaccine to kids 12+ by end of June: Henry

Health Canada authorized the vaccine for younger teens this morning

A woman in the Harrison Mills area was attacked by a cougar on Tuesday, May 4. B.C. Conservation Officers killed two male cougars in the area; the attack was determined to be predatory in nature. (File photo)
2 cougars killed following attack on woman in Agassiz area

Attack victim remains in hospital in stable condition

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. CDC updates info, acknowledging small respiratory droplets can spread COVID-19

Large droplets, not aerosols had been fixture of public health messaging for many months

George Ryga, considered by many as Canada’s most important English playwright lived in Summerland from 1963 until his death in 1987. He is the inspiration for the annual Ryga Arts Festival. (Contributed)
Summerland archive established for George Ryga

Renowned author wrote novels, poetry, stage plays and screen plays from Summerland home

Grizzly bear. (File)
Malakwa man bitten by grizzly bear on dog walk

The man and dogs were not seriously injured

Most Read