E-scooter trial extended for the third time

E-scooter trial extended for the third time
Brendan Rees

The controversial e-scooter trial in the inner city has been extended for a further six months as the state government seeks to investigate “additional safety and compliance measures”.

As part of the extension, the state government will focus on developing a “refreshed education campaign” to roll out across the trial areas, focusing on safe rider behaviour, helmet use and e-scooter parking.

The trial was launched in February 2022 across the Melbourne, Port Phillip, and Yarra council areas – with more than eight million trips having been recorded under hire operators Lime and Neuron.

It is the third time the government has extended the trial after originally being scheduled to last 12 months. The most recent extension was made in October to “collect the most comprehensive dataset”.

The first extension in March last year included lifting a ban on private e-scooter use, as well as the age restriction of riders being dropped from 18 to 16.    

In announcing the latest extension on April 4, Minister for Public and Active Transport Gabrielle Williams said more work was needed on safety and compliance to ensure that e-scooters are safe “when they’re made permanent later this year”.

“E-scooters are here to stay – they’ve proven popular among commuters, especially shift workers, providing an additional option to travel home safely,” she said.

 

In a statement, the government said data gathered during the trial period showed most e-scooter users “are doing the right thing,” it also indicated a need to improve compliance and riders understanding the rules.

 

Under the trial, riders must not ride on footpaths, always wear a helmet, be at least 16 years old, not carry a passenger and not drink and ride.

E-scooters must not travel at more than 20km/h and only be ridden on roads with a maximum speed limit of 60km/h or less. 

In January, the Royal Melbourne Hospital’s trauma program manager Kellie Gumm expressed concern about the dangers of e-scooter use as patients suffering serious injuries continued to climb.

According to the government, user surveys conducted by share scheme operators revealed about 28 per cent of e-scooter trips in metropolitan areas replaced a vehicle trip.

The current trial extension will run until October 4.

Inner-city business owner Steve Martinuzzo expressed his concern about the e-scooter trial, particularly with riders leaving the devices scattered haphazardly in various places.

“Every time I go outside in inner-city Melbourne, I see people riding these rentals without helmets, parking them in the most inconsiderate places, blocking footpaths for people with prams, wheelchairs or walking frames, riding dangerously or on footpaths etc,” he said.

“These scooters do have a place, but that they need to be better regulated to be fair to all.”

The state government said it would develop a guide for councils with best practice advice on how to manage e-scooter share schemes, including parking management and operator insurance requirements. 

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