Red Deer will allow e-scooter users as young as 16 years old — down from 18 — this season. (Advocate file photo)

Red Deer will allow e-scooter users as young as 16 years old — down from 18 — this season. (Advocate file photo)

Red Deer e-scooter age lowered to 16

Council decides not to make helmets mandatory for e-scooter users under 18

Red Deer has reduced the minimum age for e-scooter users to 16 years old from 18.

The change brings the city in line with provincial regulations.

“We would not be able to go any younger than 16. Fourteen would not be supported by the province,” Amy Fengstad, city parking and licensing supervisor told council Monday.

Staff were also asked to look into regulations that would make helmet wearing mandatory for e-scooter users under 18, the same as for cyclists.

Calgary has a minimum age of 18, but in Okotoks, St. Albert and Edmonton riders as young as 16 are allowed.

A public survey last November found one in four respondents said they allowed riders under 18.

E-scooter companies were split on the proposal. Two of four told the city they could not operate if the minimum age was reduced from 18 because of issues around insurance and legal agreements riders must agree to before renting.

About 1,750 e-scooters were available in Red Deer last year. It is not clear how many would be out this year if two companies dropped out.

City staff were also asked to look into whether helmet use for riders under 18 should be mandatory. Eight of 10 respondents to an online city survey after last season said they did not wear helmets.

That option was not recommended by staff, who pointed out it would be difficult to enforce. Also unlike bicycles, e-scooters are restricted to 20 km/h and are not supposed to be on roads.

A better option would be public education, staff suggested.

Council also approved fines for those who break the rules. Riding an e-scooter under the age of 16 could result in a $40 fine, a reduction from the previous $60 potential fine.

Those who operate e-scooters without due care and attention could be slapped with a $250 fine. Carrying a passenger could mean a $100 fine.

Coun. Vesna Higham, who had suggested two weeks ago that the minimum ridership age be reduced to 14 was satisfied with the bylaw changes.

“I am pleased with reducing (ridership age) to 16 from 18. I probably, personally would have preferred it be down to 14.”

Higham said e-scooters have been good for the city and provided an economic boost. “I am so thrilled with the success of the pilot (project) so far.”

Coun. Lawrence Lee called the pilot project a “success on all fronts” and reducing the minimum ridership age made sense.

“With the respect to the age, I think that was a good move.”

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