Electric scooters can be seen zooming by almost everywhere in the province, from bike paths to streets.
But according to the Quebec Transport Ministry (MTQ), the law is written in black and white: they are permitted only on private property.
Despite growing popularity, the low-speed motorized electric standing scooters are illegal on public roads in Quebec, including walkways.
“As of right now the law is clear. You can not use low-speed electric scooters on a public road or on a bike path that is next to the public road,” said Quebec Transport Ministry spokesperson Louis-André Bertrand.
As part of a province-wide pilot project, e-scooters from the company GeeBee are currently the only motorized electric scooter allowed on Quebec roads, according the province’s automobile insurance board (SAAQ).
“It is currently prohibited to travel on the road network with an electric scooter, with the exception of those planned as part of the pilot project,” Gino Desrosiers, spokesperson for the SAAQ said in a statement.
The pilot project started in 2019 as the second of its kind, meant to study the integration, safety and security concerns with riding the vehicles.
The project, was originally planned to end in the fall of this year but has since been extended to September 2023.
“We’re trying to look into what the impact of the low-speed electric scooter has on traffic and other road users,” Bertrand said.
Unanswered questions remain with the fairly new technology and laws cannot be changed “at the snap of a finger,” he added.
The MTQ said the study will be looking to see if new traffic laws will need to be implemented to make sure riding e-scooters can be done safely.
However, officials from the SAAQ did say there is an openness to legalizing the use of electric scooters, “but we must first identify the conditions that will ensure the safety of users and others,” Desrosiers said.
Alex Malenfant says he has been riding his electric scooter for the past two years and was completely unaware of the laws.
“I had no idea. Even on the bike paths? … Are you serious? I didn’t know that,” Malenfant said when told of the law.
He claims he has never once been stopped by police in the city and he and his partner ride weekly to get to work.
The law was also a surprise to long-time rider Michael Mili, who says the electric scooters are just as safe as their bike counterparts — maybe even safer.
“It’s pretty similar to a bike. I don’t see the difference. Similar speed, similar control. It’s even easy to start and stop so it’s more efficient,” Mili said.
When it comes to enforcement of the law, Montreal police said: “rest assured that officers apply the law on the territory,” a statement reads. Riders who do not toe the line risk a fine between $175 and $300.
However, enforcement of traffic safety laws has been lagging behind the growing number of e-scooter riders.
Since 2018, fewer than 100 tickets have been issued by Montreal police officers.
“With all the laws and regulations that there are to enforce, we must however prioritize our interventions according to several factors, including the dangerousness of the offence, accident-prone areas,” officials from the police service said.
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