‘Urgent need’ for ridesharing in B.C. as cannabis legalization looms: safety advocates

(Photo: NICHE Canada)

The impending legalization of cannabis demonstrates the urgent need for access to ridesharing services in B.C., says safety advocacy organizations Ridesharing Now for BC, the National Institute for Cannabis Health and Education (NICHE) and Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada (MADD Canada).

Cannabis-impaired driving and enforcement remains a significant public safety concern in advance of the legalization of recreational cannabis. Information campaigns are helping to educate people of the risks of driving while impaired after cannabis use, and access to a range of transportation options is important to ensuring people make the right choice to not get behind the wheel after using cannabis.

“Ridesharing is an important public safety tool that will help ensure impaired drivers stay off the road. Existing providers often are expensive and inadequate for those travelling at peak times or in suburban and rural areas that are currently underserved,” says Barinder Rasode of the National Institute for Cannabis Health and Education (NICHE). “With the legalization of cannabis taking place in a matter of days, it’s time British Columbians had an affordable and reliable travel option for getting a safe ride home.”

Ian Tostenson, spokesperson for Ridesharing Now for BC, said the organization was pleased to hear Premier John Horgan commit to ridesharing legislation this fall. 

“It is critical that regulations brought forward by government ensure local and global players are able to start up,” he added. “For example, artificial caps on the number of taxis or ridesharing vehicles hurts service and the availability of safe rides.”

MADD Canada National President Patricia Hynes-Coates noted impaired driving whether it is from alcohol or cannabis is “100% avoidable.”

“It is up to the provincial government to ensure there are a range of safe transportation options available not just downtown Vancouver but across Metro Vancouver and the entire province,” said Hynes-Coates. “That is why B.C. needs ridesharing.”

According to the latest National Cannabis Survey, one in seven (14 per cent) cannabis users reported, within the last three months, driving within two hours of use. Five per cent of respondents said they had been in a vehicle driven by someone who had used cannabis within the previous two hours.

Read more: One in seven people admit to driving after smoking pot: Statistics Canada

Only half of cannabis users aged 16-19 surveyed in Statistics Canada’s Canadian Cannabis Survey 2017, believe that cannabis impairs one’s ability to drive.

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena announced on July 19, 2018 that legislation for ridesharing would be introduced in the fall of 2018, but applications from bidding companies would wait until fall 2019.

The B.C. Government previously promised ridesharing would be available for consumers by the end of 2017, and later promised the end of 2018. Horgan recently confirmed the government’s new schedule in media interviews.

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