Electric scooters sold at big prices have never been so popular, but a very bad surprise awaits Quebeckers who ride on them... they are illegal on almost all our roads.
“It is time for our politicians to tune in. I am authorized for a company to sell me an electric scooter, but I am given a ticket after riding it. It’s not clear,” plague Frédéric Theraud.
To his surprise, the Montrealer was fined $173 in June. Mr. Theraud's offence: driving on a street in the borough of LaSalle in his small vehicle.
"I've been seeing police for weeks and I've never been told anything. I think the agents wanted to fill their quota that day, ”he denounces.
However, the rules are clear... although unknown: motorized scooters cannot ride on a public road, even just to cross it, warns the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM). The only places where they can circulate are on private land or shopping centers, specifies the regulation.
Same story at the Service de police de Laval (SPL).
"This is a criminal offence, therefore, the police officer has discretionary power for this type of offence", specifies agent Érika Landry, of the SPL.
In Longueuil, the police force says that only GEEBEE brand scooters are authorized on their territory under an ongoing pilot project.
It should be noted that few tickets are given to offenders. In Laval, four have been linked to the use of these vehicles since 2018. In Longueuil, for the same period, only two findings were issued.
However, the Capitale-Nationale seems to be the least restrictive city for electric scooters due to an SAAQ pilot project authorizing them under certain conditions until September 2023.
Eco-friendly and essential
Marc-André Funnyt, a resident of the Laurentians, deplores having received numerous warnings from the police, who threatened to give him a ticket, while he was riding his electric scooter.
“I have health problems, including a lumbar sprain, after being very sporty. I have too much pain on my bike. With my girlfriend, we rediscovered the pleasure of cycle paths with this electric vehicle. It's wonderful," he said.
Like Mr. Funnyt, many users of the electric scooter contacted by Le Journal hope that this transport will become legal on public roads.
According to them, this is all the more relevant with climate change, since it is an interesting alternative to the car for example.
An entrepreneur who would like to bring the pleasures of electric scooters to Chambly is unable to develop his rental business because of the law he considers outdated.
"We've been trying to do this service for a year, but we're told we don't have the right and we're getting in the way. We are trying to contact the SAAQ to obtain a pilot project in Chambly, but there is no response, ”says Charlie Arsenault, 21.
The young man, owner of Locations Électrigo inc., affirms that he can however sell these electrical appliances without problem.
"It's not bad just what we can do in the meantime. Customers are told that the law prohibits scooters. At the same time, I mention to them that there are so many people who do it, how do you want to control that? asks Mr. Arsenault.
THE ELECTRIC SCOOTER
Source: SAAQ, Éducaloi and SPVM
AND THE ELECTRIC BIKE?
It is permitted on public roads, provided the motor is electric, not gasoline, and does not exceed 500 watts. It must also have functional pedals, like a classic bicycle.
Wearing a helmet is compulsory for all those who ride an electric bike. Users must be over 14 years old. Up to 17 years old, it is necessary to hold a moped license. No permit is required for those aged 18 and over.
If electric scooters are prohibited on our public roads, it is simply because the Highway Safety Code has still not had time to adapt to these technologies.
“Electric scooters are prohibited because it is not provided for in the Code, so they cannot circulate on public roads. It’s simple, ”explains Mario Vaillancourt, spokesperson for the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ).
However, in reaction to the strong popularity of this means of transport, Mr. Vaillancourt reveals that a committee made up of experts from the SAAQ and the Ministère des Transports du Québec (MTQ) is currently looking into this issue.
“They are analyzing the situation. Obviously, there is a question of safety related to third parties with this type of vehicle and cohabitation with other road users. That’s all that needs to be analyzed,” he says.
"I'm not saying it's more dangerous than a bicycle, no. It all depends on the human factor. However, with self-service scooters, for example, few wear knee and elbow pads, says Marco Harrison, road safety expert and director of the CAA-Quebec Foundation. Also, motorists are not yet very used to seeing these vehicles on the street,” comments Mr. Harrison.
With the arrival of electric unicycles or electric skateboards, he also notes that “offers for new electric vehicles are now arriving very quickly. Faster than traffic regulations. »
Moreover, these scooters are considered motor vehicles. So, beware of those who would be tempted to use this means of transport after consuming.
“The Criminal Code is clear. Charges could be filed for dangerous driving since it is a motor vehicle. We are also talking here about charges in the event of impaired faculties after consuming drugs or alcohol, ”warns Me Jean-Benoit Dionne, lawyer at Éducaloi.