Rider education and behaviour change key to e-scooter trial, residents say
Docklands residents and pedestrian safety advocates are hoping that the state government’s extension of the electric scooter hire scheme will see an expansion of rider education and rules enforced.
The state government in March extended the e-scooter trial by another six months, after the program was launched in January last year, with 3.7 million short trips undertaken through scooter hire companies Lime and Neuron.
A spokesperson for the Docklands Representative Group said it was important to use the extension to better understand how e-scooters were being used.
“The usual claim is that people are using hire e-scooters to quickly transit between meetings. But in Docklands, they are often used recreationally,” the spokesperson said.
“Unfortunately, this type of usage sees multiple people on the one e-scooter, no helmets and use of footpaths.”
The DRG also hoped the trial would see “testing new behaviour change elements, including broad-based awareness campaigns about usage – otherwise, what is the point of the extended trail and what additional data will be gathered?”
The growing number of fires linked to lithium-ion batteries in e-scooters had also prompted disquiet from the DRG, in which it said this had “worrying implications for residential apartment buildings with many people choosing to recharge their e-scooters inside their apartments”.
This has significant implications for safety within these high-rise buildings and will also likely have far reaching insurance impacts.
Under the trial’s extension, a previous ban on private scooters was lifted while 16-year-olds will be allowed to ride the devices.
All users will be permitted on roads with a speed limit of 60km/h or less – up from the 50km/h limit. They can be ridden on roads, in bicycle lanes, on bicycle paths or separated and shared paths, but will remain illegal on footpaths.
But in another shift to the program, Neuron announced on May 2 a roll-out of its N4 e-scooter, a new model with an upgraded 300-watt, 48-volt, electric motor, allowing for the scooter to climb a 17-degree incline carrying a 90kg rider.
However, they cannot travel above 20km/h while e-scooters capable of travelling faster than 25km/h are not classified as e-scooters and are still illegal.
Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner for Road Policing, Glenn Weir, said Victoria Police’s role in the e-scooter trial “has always been about enforcement, and this doesn’t change”.
“We will continue to enforce the e-scooter rules in line with the extended trial,” he said.
“The extended trial will help us to understand further how both hire and privately owned e-scooters can be used safely.”
Mr Weir added Victoria Police had advocated its position regarding e-scooters in conjunction with other road safety partners, “however, we respect the decision of government”.
Victoria Walks executive Ben Rossiter said while their organisation supported different modes of transport to move around the city, it had repeatedly called for measures including investment in more separated bike lanes that would “reduce the rampant use of e-scooters on footpaths, as well as e-scooter rider insurance to cover walkers being hit on footpaths”.
The state government said extending the trial would provide additional data to evaluate and inform future regulations.