You’ve seen them all over your city’s streets, and everyone who rides one looks absolutely thrilled. So, why haven’t you picked up your own folding electric scooter yet? Maybe you’re worried about whether e-scooters require a driver’s license, or a specialized license like motorcycles? Maybe you don’t have a driver’s license. Can you still ride an electric scooter, shared or otherwise?
The rules regarding the requirement of a license for e-scooter riders differ in different provinces.
Most provinces that allow the use of e-scooters in public places have restrictions for the minimum age of drivers. Also, some states require riders to have a valid license, others do not have such restrictions.
In general, most provinces in Canada will allow you to own and ride an e-scooter without needing a license, number plate or insurance. But, make sure to confirm once with your local authorities. Ontario, for example, sets a minimum age of 16 for riders, requires helmets for anyone under 18, and has encouraged municipalities to set their own guidelines for parking and penalties for violating the laws.
First, we need to define what we mean by motorized electric scooter. The term can mean a number of things, from folding scooters like Unagi’s Model One to two-wheeled seated scooters that are more moped-like and have more powerful motors and larger batteries. For the purposes of Canadian law, electric scooters must follow the following requirements:
- Must be electric
- No pedals or seat allowed
- Must have horn or bell
- Must have front and back light
- Must have 2 wheels and brakes
- Maximum wheel diameter 17 inches
- Maximum weight 45 kg
- Maximum power output 500W that can provide a maximum speed of 24 km/h.
On the other hand, BC law states that electric scooters are not allowed on any public roads. There are numerous calls to update the Motor Vehicle Act to include new provisions for micromobility, but the lawmakers are lagging compared to the rate of adoption. In BC, you can be fined $598 CAD for riding any motorized vehicle (including scooters) without automotive grade insurance, so there is clearly a gap between what the law states and what is actually happening on the streets of Vancouver.
The laws around electric scooter riding are constantly evolving. With new scooter-specific laws set to be passed in 2021, the grey area scooters currently sit in should become more clear. The positive news for prospective and existing Unagi riders is that over the first 3 years of the meteoric rise of folding electric scooters in the world, regulatory bodies seem to have been shifting toward regulating small forms of micromobility (like scooters) differently than larger vehicles like mopeds and motorcycles. Governments love how they aid to achieve equitable transportation goals (since many cannot afford a car, gas, parking, and auto insurance), as well as drastically reduce carbon footprints with vehicles that are human-sized and electric. And they’re easier to operate and straight up fun.