HALIFAX — The owner of a Segway sales company is hoping new laws in Nova Scotia legalizing the use of the devices on roads and sidewalks will pave the way to similar laws and more widespread Segway use across the country.
Max Rastelli, owner of Segway Nova Scotia in Halifax, said he believes proposed amendments to provincial legislation announced Thursday will be noticed in other Canadian provinces and jurisdictions.
“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.”
Transportation Minister Geoff MacLellan said Thursday that if the proposed changes are passed, Nova Scotia will be the first to include two-wheeled vehicles such as Segways and self-balanced electric scooters in its Motor Vehicle Act, legalizing their use on roads, sidewalks and bike lanes.
Rastelli said the apparent breakthrough for Segway users in Nova Scotia is a result of the data and public feedback gathered as part of a pilot program 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. He said the evaluation included surveys of Segway riders and other road users, incident reporting forms and feedback from police and municipalities.
“The results of the pilot project on Segways were positive, with no negative impact on the safety of all road users,” he said.
The department released preliminary results of 850 road user surveys which indicated 93 per cent of the pedestrians 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 must be at least 16 years of age to operate a personal transporter on their own.
The devices 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 kilometres per hour on a road or seven kilometres per hour on a sidewalk. They would also have to be driven on the extreme right-hand side of the road.
Municipalities would also be given latitude to determine which streets could be used.
MacLellan said he’s driven a Segway and believes they can share the road.
“Once you get the hang of it they are pretty safe and they are certainly a lot of fun,” he said.
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