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

BAL Lawyers 18 March 2021 70
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.

What's Your Opinion?

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70 Responses to Consider yourself warned! Safely riding e-scooters this holiday season
Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 12:11 am 22 Dec 20

I see quite a few around my neighbourhood. There must have been six or more parked at my local shops today for instance, but all neatly lined up. There's often some parked there. I can only recall seeing about four badly placed, and one I suspect had fallen over; the rest have been placed neatly, including several left in my street.

Lucy Baker Lucy Baker 9:33 pm 21 Dec 20

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?

Acton Acton 9:01 pm 21 Dec 20

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?

Coco_Black Coco_Black 5:18 pm 17 Dec 20

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.

    Maya123 Maya123 12:06 am 22 Dec 20

    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.

Stas Idowu Stas Idowu 7:22 am 14 Dec 20

I think it's been safer riding these on the bike lane than on busy footpaths in civic..

Why would we ride these on pedestrians footpaths given the speed and close calls?

Shaun Michael Smith Shaun Michael Smith 6:06 pm 13 Dec 20

Lol no one wears a helmet on them and that’s illegal. Also Hayley they are left willy nilly because I saw one at the side of the Monaro highway and using them on the roads is illegal also. Whoever thinks these are a good idea is a moron. They’re a lawsuit waiting to happen.

    Jeff Heron Jeff Heron 7:59 pm 21 Dec 20

    Shaun Michael Smith here’s a “not willy nilly” helmet?!

Jeanette Weeden Jeanette Weeden 11:05 am 13 Dec 20

Is one of the laws 'acting like a douche' whilst riding? If so, I see a lot of that on a daily basis 🤣

Adam Davey Adam Davey 2:21 am 12 Dec 20

Scootin' in the nude.

Tim Conway Tim Conway 9:11 pm 11 Dec 20

I’m sure the guy is a good lawyer, but when he said: “With Canberra’s well maintained footpaths so suited to the use of e-scooters, the future is looking bright for this transport option,” I nearly choked on my glass of finest Cotter. Perhaps in the new suburbs, yes — but anywhere in suburbs 20 years +, the footpaths are appalling and quite dangerour just to walk on, let alone ride a bike or — worse — one of these scooters with small wheels. Personal injuries due to poorly maintained footpaths, now *there’s* an opportunity for an enterprising lawyer!

    Chris Elsley Chris Elsley 5:49 am 12 Dec 20

    Tim Conway the 2000+ injuries per year in Auckland didnt perturb the worldwide spread of these things. humans need to witness horror to effectively learn

    Janne Lorenzen Janne Lorenzen 12:52 pm 12 Dec 20

    Tim Conway same. The guy has no idea what he‘s talking about. The inner north’s footpaths are a disaster and remind me again where the scooters are? The inner suburbs?

Janice Johnstone Janice Johnstone 7:50 pm 11 Dec 20

How do get rid of them deserted on your front lawn!!!

    Shane Jasprizza Shane Jasprizza 7:45 am 12 Dec 20

    Janice move them to the neighbours lawn.

    Janice Johnstone Janice Johnstone 8:44 am 12 Dec 20

    Shane Jasprizza I tried but it kept talking and woke up the neighbours dog!!!!

Mick Bailey Mick Bailey 4:27 pm 11 Dec 20


For breaking the rules or breaking the scooters.

Just asking

Kirrily Belle Kirrily Belle 2:16 pm 11 Dec 20

Just watched a teenager ride one up Hindmarsh dr while his friends filmed it.

Sure, nothing can go wrong

Stephen Newham Stephen Newham 2:14 pm 11 Dec 20

Here is the only laws the lunatic’s who ride these scooters 🛴 need to know. It’s the laws of physics and mechanics 🧰 with these laws the bigger object ie car 🚗 vs the smaller object ie scooter 🛴 and the lunatic on the scooter 🛴, the car wins every time, enough said.

    Paul Francis Eakin Paul Francis Eakin 10:46 am 12 Dec 20

    Stephen Newham only one thing wrong with your reasoning, these scooters are ridden places where pedestrians walk and they are partial to being the ones who are hit.

    Stephen Newham Stephen Newham 9:31 pm 12 Dec 20

    Paul I’ve have nearly run over two of these lunatics on the roadway. And trust me I’ve spent 30 years in ACT Fire and Rescue and have a sound reasoning of the mechanics involved. A stupid initiative that will cost some users dearly.

Zarah Mason Zarah Mason 1:55 pm 11 Dec 20

Charlie Johnston we would never break the law

    Charlie Johnston Charlie Johnston 3:31 pm 11 Dec 20

    Zarah Mason I would never you are right

Bec Andrews Bec Andrews 1:35 pm 11 Dec 20

Kia Douglas i think this is how you will get home from the Christmas party

Annabel Grey-Reitz Annabel Grey-Reitz 12:48 pm 11 Dec 20

Samantha Grey-reitz warning u

Kelvin de Mamiel Kelvin de Mamiel 12:28 pm 11 Dec 20

How about no?

Jessie Braganza Jessie Braganza 11:21 am 11 Dec 20

Let’s use these to get from town to The Boat House Craig Lisa Sheldon 😂

Pratik Patel Pratik Patel 9:25 am 11 Dec 20

You cannot deploy more than 5 scooter at one station

Kieran Wyatt Kieran Wyatt 12:27 am 11 Dec 20

Jazmin Madden obey the rules

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