The city is amending its parkland bylaw to allow the use of e-bikes and other “wheeled conveyances” within city parks. 

City council approved the amendments to the bylaw C1310A (parkland bylaw) at the Dec. 11 regular council meeting.

“This is about helping people be safe and recognizing that there are other people, and you have to have respect for other people on the pathways,” said Coun. Mike O’Connor.

The bylaw will now allow the use of certain approved “wheeled conveyances” within city parks; previously, the bylaw only set rules for bicycles. 

“Wheeled conveyance is a broad term which includes bicycles, mobility, aids and other micro-mobility devices, including e-bikes and e-scooters,” said Helen Napier, Protective Services executive director.

She said the director of parks will decide which vehicles can be used and can add and remove devices without needing to amend the bylaw.

City administration looked to the City of Calgary’s program regulating the use of similar devices within its parks. 

The bylaw will only allow the vehicles to be used in city parks and not on sidewalks because such devices are prohibited under the provincial Traffic Safety Act.

“Do you feel that the provincial government may be making some forward momentum in updating their rather archaic Traffic Safety laws?,” asked Coun. Gladys Blackmore.

Napier said she is unaware of any changes being considered by the province. 

“Cities need this to be changed because it’s causing issues in regulating the devices, so we don’t have information saying that they are going to, but there’s been that advocacy piece done to get them to do it,” said Napier. 

Coun. Chris Thiessen said he had concerns with the potential speed of electric vehicles on park trails. 

He said in his research some e-bikes can now reach about 80 km/hr; he said he does not want to see those speeds on walking trails. 

Peace Officer Sergeant Ross Gear said e-vehicles that exceed 32 km/hr are prohibited under federal law and are applied provincially. 

Still, speed is a factor some councillors were concerned with at the Dec. 5 Public & Protective Services Committee meeting.

The bylaw states wheeled conveyances are to “operate at a speed in a manner which is reasonable given the existing environment conditions.”

Some councillors suggested a speed limit should be set for city trails. 

Napier said the reason for not having a speed limit on trails includes ensuring riders operate appropriately in wet and different weather conditions, and the inability to ensure proper signage at all trail entryways. She said it would be up to officers to ensure proper documentation is attained if someone was breaking the bylaw.

“We are quite aware that if we have somebody to charge, it’s going to be based on the quality of the work that the officers are doing, documentation, what they have seen, maybe it’s pictures, those types of things, so it could cause some problems if we had to do a charge, but this is a last resort anyway because we always want to do the education piece first,” said Napier. 

O’Connor said speed limits in the parks may be an issue brought to council in the future.

“There are a number of people that call me and say ‘I’ve almost been hit,’” he said but noted no complaints or near misses were reported to city enforcement services earlier in the year when he asked for the reports. 

“As I learned in the construction industry, if you have a close call at some point in time, you’re going to have a serious incident. 

“It’s just a matter of numbers.”

“If you have a close call, call 311 and report it; if you don’t report it, they have no way of having a record if there are close calls and whether or not they (enforcement services) have to pay attention.”

By Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Dec 14, 2023 at 09:08

This item reprinted with permission from   Town & Country News   Beaverlodge, Alberta

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