HALIFAX – After passing a test run, Segways could soon be legal on roads and sidewalks in Nova Scotia, something a supporter of the stand-up motorized scooters hopes will lead to similar breakthroughs across the country.
Nova Scotia’s transportation minister is among those who have taken the scooters for a spin, and he believes they can safely share the road.
“Once you get the hang of it they are pretty safe and they are certainly a lot of fun,” Geoff MacLellan said Thursday before introducing legislation that would make the province the first to include self-balanced electric scooters in its Motor Vehicle Act.
Max Rastelli, owner of Segway Nova Scotia in Halifax, said he believes other provinces and jurisdictions in Canada will take notice.
“It just takes that one to show the leadership and take that initiative,” said Rastelli. “I hope provinces like Ontario and Alberta that have been trying for years to get this through, hopefully things can move a little quicker for them.”
Rastelli said the apparent breakthrough for Segway users in Nova Scotia comes because of the data and public feedback that was gathered from a pilot program that was launched by the province in 2014.
“That feedback was just critical in what resulted here,” he said.
MacLellan said the pilot program allowed companies in Halifax, Truro and Chester to test and evaluate the use of the vehicles on the province’s streets and sidewalks.
“The results of the pilot project on Segways were positive, with no negative impact on the safety of all road users,” he said.
MacLellan said the evaluation included surveys of Segway riders and other road users, incident reporting forms and feedback from police and municipalities.
The department released preliminary results of 850 road user surveys that indicated 93 per cent of the pedestrians who were asked reported that they did not have a negative experience when encountering Segways. Another 420 rider surveys indicated 94 per cent felt safe driving Segways, while two per cent — seven respondents — reported collisions, primarily with the Segway in front of them.
Under the regulations, drivers would be required to wear helmets and there would be a minimum age of 16 for a driver to operate a Segway or similar vehicle on their own.
The vehicles would not be allowed on roads with a speed limit higher than 60 kilometres per hour and wouldn’t be allowed to travel faster than 20 km/h on a road, or seven km/h on a sidewalk. They would also have to be driven on the extreme right-hand side of the road and municipalities would also be allowed to determine which streets could be used.