Googonians could soon putter about their streets on e-scooters as part of a NSW-first trial.
The Queanbeyan Palerang Regional Council (QPRC) endorsed an expression of interest in the project at the recent council meeting (11 May), opening the door for the 12-month trial to come to town.
Councillor Michele Biscotti noted the trial would need little input from council and supported the endeavour.
“It’s really driven by Transport for NSW, so why not?” he said.
“Let’s scope it, let’s see how it works and if it works.”
Councillor Katrina Willis also supported the motion, but was concerned about the risk posed by e-scooters.
“Where these scooters have been used in Canberra, where I work, in some cases they have caused a risk to other users on footpaths,” she said.
“I hope when we undertake this trial we’ll be mindful in making sure other people’s safety isn’t put at risk by introducing this new form of transport.”
Councillor Edwina Webster also voiced concerns about insurance.
“I would like to see the agreement [with Transport for NSW] come back through council so we can look through it. I have insurance concerns and just want to make sure we have that all tied up,” she said.
“As it’s a brand new [scheme] it would be prudent to make sure we’re just covered off.”
QPRC community connections portfolio general manager Phil Hansen said he was happy to provide advice on the levels of insurance provided in the agreement, but stated it was not “practice” to put such agreements back before the council.
“It would delay the signing of it and that could create issues around how that might progress,” he said.
Council has sent Transport for NSW an expression of interest to be part of the 12-month trial which is due to begin in July, 2022.
QPRC staff identified Googong as a suitable trial site due to its numerous footpaths, proximity to the ACT and its relatively new infrastructure.
Council noted the trial had the support of Googong Township (GTPL).
Googong Residents’ Association President Candice Cox also welcomed the endorsement of the trial EOI.
“We look forward to working with our stakeholders and community should Googong be chosen for the scheme and aim to ensure safety of our community is paramount,” she said.
“With our township growing faster than expected the introduction of e-scooters in NSW could be a great way to encourage active transport and give our community more options to travel in and around the township in a sustainable way.”
The NSW Active Transport Minister Rob Stokes announced on 28 April the e-scooter trial would be brought forward, with the program confined to share schemes.
“We are actively looking forward to a time when private e-scooters will also be part of the active transport fabric, and am working to ensure only safe e-scooters are stocked and sold and legally used on our streets in time for Christmas,” he said.
The use of e-scooters is currently illegal in NSW, however Mr Stokes foreshadowed regulations will be made public in coming weeks with geo-fencing technology to be used to control speeds and where they can be parked.
“E-scooters are an affordable, convenient and sustainable method of moving about and it’s important we harness that and recognise their increasing popularity around the world in a safe way,” he said.
“The benefits of e-scooters aren’t limited to inner-city areas, with the regional Victorian town of Ballarat recording more than 4,000 e-scooter trips in the first month of a similar trial.
“[We] will be focused on ensuring e-scooter regulations are sensible and appropriate for NSW. Safety is paramount when it comes to e-scooter users and those around them.”
Region Media contacted Googong Township (GTPL) for comment.