18 March 2021

Consider yourself warned! Safely riding e-scooters this holiday season

| BAL Lawyers
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Beam e-scooters lined up in Civic.

Beam e-scooters lined up at Ainslie Place in Civic. Photo: Photox – Canberra Photography Services.

Electric scooters are a common sight around Canberra’s city and inner suburbs, and with the holiday season upon us, it is timely to remember what is required to avoid breaking the law – and any bones.

Two-wheel e-Scooters offer fun, eco-friendly and convenient transport, however research has found that riders of them sustain more injuries per kilometre than cyclists, and are twice as likely to be injured because of potholes, pavement cracks, lamp posts and sign posts.

Many riders may not be aware of the laws around e-scooter usage for the safety of riders, drivers and pedestrians.

BAL Lawyers special counsel Bill McCarthy says many of the normal road rules apply to e-scooters, such as staying to the left and giving way to pedestrians.

“Like any mode of transport, e-scooters pose a safety risk,” he says. “It is important to understand and follow the road rules that apply to e-scooters, which are different to those for cyclists and drivers.”

Bill McCarthy from BAL Lawyers.

Bill McCarthy, from BAL Lawyers, deals with the consequences of unintended accidents and injuries daily. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Bill says e-scooters are not permitted to be ridden on roads or on-road bicycle lanes, and speed limits apply. Riders on footpaths need to maintain a maximum speed of 15km/h, which increases to 25km/h in all other permitted locations such as bicycle paths and other thoroughfares.

Riders must also slow down to 10km/h when approaching and travelling across a crossing, and ensure they take the shortest and safest route across roads.

“Of course, a properly fitted helmet is essential,” says Bill.

While a regulatory framework is in place for e-scooters, preventing them from being used on ACT roads, ACT Police has reportedly been tolerant with riders as they become accustomed to the rules and regulations. However, this is set to change with a blunt warning being issued in October 2020.

“A tipping point will be if risky behaviour and blatant flouting of the rules leads to incidents that end up in hospital emergency departments,” says Bill.

“I deal with the consequences of accidents and injury on a daily basis. In this case, either party may seek compensation to cover any personal injury and medical expenses or even property repairs resulting from e-scooter accidents.”

READ ALSO Night-time ‘fishing’ all part of the job for Canberra’s scooter crew

He warns that greater responsibility may be borne by the rider, who should ride at a speed and in a manner to avoid an accident with a pedestrian. But it’s not just pedestrians who e-scooter riders need to look out for – they should also watch out to avoid accidental collisions with cars.

“If e-scooters are ridden on the road, which is illegal, riders cause a safety risk to both themselves and drivers on the road,” says Bill. “You don’t need a licence to ride, but road rules such as not carrying a passenger, having a warning device such as a bell, not using mobile phones, and not riding under the influence of drugs or alcohol still apply.”

He says in some countries, e-scooters have been banned on pavements, and riders are required to have a licence.

In Canberra, rented e-scooters can be legally used within set geographical boundaries. Bill says this will probably avoid the incidence of damaged or discarded scooters that beset bicycle share schemes in other cities.

“With Canberra’s well maintained footpaths so suited to the use of e-scooters, the future is looking bright for this transport option,” says Bill.

If you have any questions regarding an accident or injury resulting from the use of e-scooters, contact Bill McCarthy at BAL Lawyers.

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So annoying seeing scooters parked on the footpath where people who use walkers or wheelchairs can’t get around them. I saw three on the footpath in one short drive today. Can’t the Minister do something?

Scooter rage: the vandalism or destruction of an electric scooter. Some residents are so annoyed with the antics of scooter hoons and/or scooter littering that they are vandalising scooters to express their displeasure. Scooters are being kicked over, thrown in trees, glued and parked underwater. Is scooter rage justifiable vandalism? And what is the most creative way to disable a scooter?

I live in the Inner South and got knocked over by a rider a few weeks ago when I stepped out of my front gate early one morning to post a letter on the other side of the street. The hedge at the gate had blocked my view and I never saw the rider coming along the footpath. I was bowled over and landed in a heap at the front gate. I got a few scrapes and bruises, a swollen left hand and hurt my left foot, presumably the foot that stepped into the rider’s path. The rider swerved to her right and rode into the nature strip; lost her balance and fell off. She was okay. I’m so glad she was wearing a helmet! Much good it did me – not! Next time I go to post a letter across the road, I’m taking the car. I know who’ll come of worse.

Sorry you got hurt and I hope you recover quickly. However, time to trim the hedge so you can see passing traffic. It’s also dangerous for others when you step unseen out from an overgrown hedge.

I saw a couple of teenagers racing them around the road safety training track at Lake Ginninderra earlier this week. They had put milk crates on them to sit on and were getting up to reasonable speeds. I don’t think they bothered with helmets either.

Its surprisingly easy to crash them, as I found out this week. With two hands and full concentration its manageable, but if you take a hand off to adjust something on your bag or pocket on a footpath the bars have no stability and steering starts to fishtail and you go a over t, whereas with a bike the same move is much more stable

They get around these things.
I saw a couple near John James Hospital last week, and a few days ago a couple outside the Fyshwick markets.

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