Q&A - Electric Wheelchair Collision

motorized wheelchairMy mom was injured by a man riding in an electric wheelchair who was going too fast entering the James Bay Library. She was walking ahead of him when he ran into her. We have taken pictures of her leg injury. She is quite emotional about the incident and it has aggravated her PTSD.

Electric scooters and wheelchairs should have the same or similar licensing as they are motorized. Many people I have noticed drive these vehicles irresponsibly or are mentally compromised.

Can you please advise?



The Motor Vehicle Act treats these people as pedestrians:

"pedestrian" means a person afoot, or an invalid or child in a wheelchair or carriage;

The Victoria Streets and Traffic Bylaw 09-079 says that


3 (1) In this Bylaw and orders made under it, the words and expressions used have the meanings given to them by the Motor Vehicle Act and its regulations, except as otherwise specified in this bylaw.

Since the bylaw chooses not to define the word pedestrian, the Motor Vehicle Act definition applies. The Motor Vehicle Act goes on to say:

Application of Act

2 (2) This Act does not apply to the driving or operation of a mechanically propelled invalid's chair that is used only for the purposes for which it was designed.

So, if a person with mobility issues uses an electric wheelchair to get around, they are a pedestrian and not required to have licence or insurance. I doubt that this will change anytime in the near future.

That said, the person riding in one still has the duty to operate it safely and is responsible for any damage they do or injury they cause through it's use. Perhaps the only way to escape this duty would be if they were mentally incompetent.

The simplest formal avenue of redress for the injury would be through Small Claims Court.

You may also wish to take advantage of the Lawyer Referral Service to help decide what avenues are open to you.

Electric wheelchair


This is ICBC's info sheet. There is a lot of grey area especially with the popularization of high torque lithium powered systems. Electric wheelchair in my mind is a motorized version of the type Rick Hansen self powered around the globe. The type pictured in the original post are often referred to as scooters even though they have 3 or 4 wheels. Smaller versions can fold and generally don't have lights. Larger ones come with lights and generally are stored in garages. Wouldn't the latter come closer to what ICBC refers to as a limited speed motorcycle?


Coming home, 8 pm, in the pouring rain, (driving the semi) I met an oncoming car with his HID lights on high beam. I was somewhat handicapped by the glare, (I hold my left hand up to the windshield to block it, and don't look at it) but it did illuminate one of those shop riders in my lane. (I mean RIGHT in my lane...a foot left of the white line) It had one of those full enclosures, no lights, (no street lights where this occurred) and was travelling my direction. 

I couldn't swerve, as that would "crack the whip" with the back trailer. I could only take what I needed to clear, and no more.

It was one of those times where 1 second would be too late. There was a car behind me, and as I went by this scooter, I looked in the mirror, and I could see by the lights of the guy behind me that the back trailer missed this scooter by a foot. A foot is good enough for me, but it's as close as I ever want to get.

my concern is, why are there no controls, conditions, or restrictions on "users" of the highway? I don't care if it's pedestrians, bycicles, shopriders, skateboarders, or go karts. I've seen them all on the highway, sometimes where you'd least expect them, and more often than that, somewhere that made it very difficult to ensure a positive outcome of the interaction. (That is my duty as a driver, to ensure that I and my equipment are fit for travel, and that I maintain control of my vehicle regardless of changing road conditions, or what I may encounter on the road) Driving can be challenging at times, and I've sure been through some tough ones in 38 years. Hauling B trains up highway 101, on the Sunshine Coast, is far from some of the worst I've seen. But hey, let's really make it exciting, and let's make it ok for kids to ride their bycicles down the middle of the road with no lights on! (Kids who have no idea of any of the rules of the road!)

Lets let senior citizens who have lost their license, drive to the bar and back on shop riders! (What harm can they do in a motorized vehicle that doesn't go over 15 kmh?) And to make it really special, let's let them do it with no lights or special markings of any kind!  (And yes, I recognized the scooter with his little rebel flag obscuring his UVB fogged rear plastic window, he was heading into town to the bar)

I realize bikes are popular, and green, and we have to make allowances for them. But they sure piss me off when I come around the corner and some old woman is walking her bike down the middle of my lane. (It doesn't matter that I am only doing 60 kmh, I AM 63,500 kg) She had to have heard me coming, but never even turned her head, she held her ground, square in the middle of my lane. Highway 101 has no real shoulders where I live, just grass, and you'd think some of these people are allergic to grass. 

At the very minimum, everything on the road should be licensed. It seems odd to me that people can expect to be covered by insurance while they are operating an uninsured vehicle, that doesn't meet the legal requirements of lighting, or occupant safety. I have to have plates and insurance on my ATV, just to CROSS a road...ANY road, not just a highway. And it has to have a headlight and taillights. It can easily go 100 kmh, but is not allowed to travel down a provincial highway. But a shop rider can, at 10 kmh, with NO lights. A pedal bike can, with no lights. We have some good pulls here, and in my daily trips to Vancouver and back, I quite often come upon cyclists walking their bikes uphill. (Highway 101 is VERY POPULAR with cyclists, many of them from other countries)

Sorry this is so disjointed, I've just got home after a very long day, 2 days actually, and against better judgement, have decided to pen this before my own decompression and debriefing.

The highway is my workplace. I pay into WCB, for coverage. These other people are unlicensed (my equipment licenses are almost $20,000 per year, PLUS cargo insurance, PLUS liability, with fuel at $1.59 per litre) and it appears unqualified (Or they would have done something to identify themselves in the way of lighting. Forget about being seen for a moment....how the hell do they see where they are going?) and they are operating in my workspace, without personal protection equipment, ICBC coverage, WCB coverage, or insurance, of any sort. As anal as ICBC is, they pale in comparison to WCB, who completely ignores this issue.

I am going to send this to you Tim, even though tomorrow I'll be all Canadian, and apologetic, and accommodating, and "it's ok, I can handle it".

I'm sure you can pick out anything of value, or just pinprick the ballon as a whole.

im sure you get this kind of thing all the time. At least I'm not demanding you come over here in your pajamas, and police the whole Sunshine Coast/highway 101 corridor, (ignoring that you are in fact, retired) by yourself, for my convenience. And while you're  at it, I want you to clear 4 DWI's off the record of a girl who dated my 4th cousin back in high school. And stand up for me in court because I have Pilates that day.

this is just between us, or if there's something you want to put up, just call me "Mr. X" or something.



Wow James. Well deserved rant. Thank you for operating your properly maintained vehicle in a safe manner. I cycle on roads that are similar to 101 often and I fear SUV's driven by class 5 licensees infinitely more than 65,000 GVW's driven by professionals like you.

Just a couple of points in response. Shopriders is a brand not a type. They refer to the model you encountered as a "scooter" and many if not most come with lights and even signals. To my earlier point don't they more closely resemble a limited speed motorcycle and therefore require a license? As Tim pointed out above our MVA; rightly or (as you and I would agree) wrongly, treat this rider as a pedestrian. 

We don't "let" cyclists ride without lights or walk a bike down the middle of a lane (which would make her a pedestrian) by law unless by "let" you mean not enforce existing rules which would be a separate issue.

Note that licensing and insuring are two different things. In theory we could license scooters and/or their operators and you've certainly made a good case for that. You also hit the nail on the head regarding kids cycling with no knowledge of road rules although I would extend that to include most adults.

We all have to share that roadway that is a workplace for you and many others including cyclists but thankfully WCB's reach does not extend that far. I'd like to see cooperation between cycling advocacy groups and the truckers' association to encourage open dialogue on these issues but we exist in an adversarial environment and that's just wrong.

Safe journeys to you and as we said back in the 60's "keep on truckin man".

Shoprider Brand

These are what James is referring to as a "shoprider."

shoprider brand mobility scooters

Like Janzep said.

Wow, that really is an excellent and accurate rant. Rick Mercer move over. It's only yesterday that I encountered one of these things in my driving path - twice - and the problem is getting worse. Thanks James, and keep up the good work behind the wheel.

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