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Road Safety includes all road users

The road safety department of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia includes all pedestrians, the ones with small wheels like mobility scooters, wheelchairs among the diverse range of personal mobility devices with diverse speeds among the whole. In March, 2024, ICBC Road safety, Live Well Prince George, the Prince George Council Of Seniors and the Handy Circle Resources Society started planning an event to promote pedestrian safety. Handy Circle’s Stephanie Dix, Ken Biron and ICBC Road Safety & Community Coordinator Tracy Hoffman hosted Scooter Rodeo 2024, as a product of that planning, in April. After this event, and the interview below that happend, pedestrian safety was increased in the province of British Columbia. We won’t say we were resonsible, but what we discussed had an impact on those changes.

Blogger Stephine Dix on the left, ICBC Road Safety & Community Coordinator Tracy Hoffman on the right

The Scooter safety interview with Tracey Hoffman From ICBC:

  • Stephanie: I’m Stephanie Dix from the Handy Circle Resource Society. I’m interviewing Tracey Hoffman from ICBC today about mobility scooter safety. How long have you worked at ICBC?
  • Tracey: I’ve been with ICBC for almost 25 years, working in various roles. I started out in Claims, and then I was a Driver Examiner for most of my career, and currently I’m the Road Safety & Community Coordinator for Northern BC.
  • Stephanie: Tracey, did you always want to do this job?
  • Tracey: Since I’ve been with ICBC, the role of Road Safety & Community Coordinator has always been my dream job. I’ve been in this role now for a little over a year now. It’s a great position in the company. I get to do some education around Road Safety and interact with the public in a very positive way.
  • Stephanie: How did you get involved mobility scooter and street safety? Did you have to look it up or what?
  • Tracey: So, I first got involved in mobility scooter safety through Margaret of the LiveWell Prince George Society. Margaret had approached me to put on a scooter rodeo at the Wellness North & Business Expo back in March, where I had the opportunity to meet up with you again, Stephanie, after being out of high school all of these years. It’s wonderful to see you again.
  • Stephanie: It’s wonderful to see you again. Do you want to stay at this role, or what would you like to do?
  • Tracey: Absolutely, yes. I love this role, and I want to stay in it until I retire, which is probably about 10 years down the road. I enjoy educating people on various road safety initiatives, including how to operate a mobility scooter safely. A lot of people are confused around the rules of riding a mobility scooter, and they’re not sure if they should operate as a pedestrian or as a vehicle. Mobility scooter riders should follow the same rules as pedestrians and ride on the sidewalk when they can.
  • Stephanie: What if the sidewalk is not working, because I just see a lot of broken-down sidewalks.
  • Tracey: So if there’s no sidewalks or the sidewalks aren’t accessible, it’s best to travel on the far left side of the road, facing traffic. Riding in bike lanes is actually prohibited in BC.
  • Stephanie: What, they are prohibited to ride in? Because we ride in bike lanes a lot.
  • Tracey: The rule is to ride on the sidewalk, wherever possible to do so. I know the sidewalks can be pretty rough, especially in the Spring. We just experienced that walking back here. But where possible, definitely ride on the sidewalk. Be aware of pedestrians on the sidewalk, as mobility scooters can move pretty quickly, so ride at the same pace as pedestrian traffic when they’re around for sure.
  • Stephanie: And do you work with OT’s, like occupational therapists, where they can have a pamphlet like you guys?
  • Tracey: We don’t work directly with occupational therapists. I’m more the education and rules of the road sort of piece, where an occupational therapist is fantastic for telling you what scooter is going to work for you and what’s going to fit you, and show you how it works and that you’re comfortable with it. I always recommend when you do get a scooter is to make sure you can operate it safely before venturing out onto public roads and maybe ask a friend to travel with you on foot or another scooter on your first few trips. Make sure you’re comfortable and safe out there. And of course, always read your owner’s manual and other safety information supplied with it.
  • Stephanie: I know this is a stupid question to ask, because I get people asking me this: Do you have to have a licence to drive a scooter?
  • Tracey: You know, that’s not a stupid question at all. With all types of e-transportation, it’s a little bit confusing out there. With motorized wheelchairs or mobility scooters, you don’t need a licence. You also don’t need vehicle registration, licence plates or insurance.
  • Stephanie: So many people I know when I drive, they ask me if I have a driver’s licence to drive that kind of thing.
  • Tracey: And no driver’s licence is required. You know, you want to follow the same rules as pedestrians – be cautious of traffic, ride on the sidewalk where you can, cross at pedestrian crosswalks, obey all your traffic control signs and devices, and stay safe out there.
  • Ken: If an officer stops you, do you have to produce ID as a pedestrian?
  • Tracey: That’s a good question, that’s a better one to be answered by the RCMP. However, if you don’t have a licence, you can get photo ID like a BCID card or a photo BC Services Card. Both of them act as great pieces of legal ID if you need it for bank accounts or passports or anything like that.
  • Stephanie: We have a friend of ours who is the President of Handy Circle. She got stopped by RCMP. Now do you have to carry your pamphlet for the rules of the scooter for the RCMP?
  • Tracey: I don’t believe you would need to carry a pamphlet regarding the rules, but it’s always a good idea to carry the owner’s manual in case you run into a problem with the scooter and perhaps need to look up something about the controls or whatever the case may be
  • Stephanie: And also, I was going to ask what does ICBC stand for?
  • Tracey: The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia.
  • Stephanie: Do the rules ever expire, or is it the same rules? Because I know some rules can expire and everything can change. Do the rules of the scooters expire?
  • Tracey: As far as I know, there’s no changes coming to the rules for mobility scooters and power wheelchairs. I believe some municipalities may be looking at allowing them to ride in bike lanes, but I’m not sure which municipalities those are or when they might come into effect.
  • Stephanie: I always thought I could ride in the bike lane.
  • Ken: That’s definitely a community concern, because every community has different size bike lanes. Vancouver has narrow ones, and Prince George has wide ones.
  • Stephanie: So there’s no expiry date in the rules? Because I know that some things expire in 2025.
  • Tracey: There’s no expiration on the rules, but things can change over time. But currently the rules aren’t changing as far as I know.
  • Ken: Pedestrians don’t actually have rules, they have guidelines.
  • Tracey: Yes, so follow the same guidelines as pedestrians.
  • Stephanie: So what’s the number one guideline?
  • Tracey: I’d say follow the traffic rules and devices. Be visible. Use the lights on your scooter if you have them, and wear brightly-coloured and reflective clothing. Slow down when you’re around pedestrians.
  • Stephanie: How many guidelines are there?
  • Tracey: Well, there’s quite a few. What I would also say as with any motorized vehicle, avoid taking any medication, drugs or alcohol that may affect your skills or judgment.

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