E-scooters can now be ridden between the City and Belconnen thanks to the latest expansion of the scheme via bike paths over Bruce Ridge.
Connecting the two current zones is the first step in the government’s staged expansion of the scheme, with Woden and Gungahlin, followed by Tuggeranong and Weston Creek, to be added later in the year.
Later this week, the ACT Legislative Assembly will also debate new drink-riding legislation intended to make the e-scooter scheme safer. This comes after a raft of new laws were passed last month by the ACT Government to improve safety for road users.
Among the changes were new offences for riding the devices without proper control and new police powers to direct a person to get off an e-scooter.
Minister for Transport and City Services Chris Steel said community feedback had proven how popular the devices are with Canberrans who wanted to see them made more widely available.
“We’ve seen that many people wanted to – and tried to – make the trip between the city and Belconnen, and so we’ve been working with the e-scooter providers to create a safe connection,” he said.
“This will keep the devices off major arterial roads and ensures they are on a shared path with cyclists.”
Mr Steel also noted the review had heard feedback from the community that new rules and stricter frameworks were needed to ensure they were used safely.
In response to some of this feedback, Mr Steel said a range of new rules would cover the new link between the City and Belconnen.
For example, Radford College, Haydon Retirement Community, inside Canberra Stadium and Gossan Hill are all no-ride zones, and Calvary Hospital is to be a permanent slow zone with a speed limit set at 15 km/h.
A temporary slow zone (also 15 km/h) will be enacted outside the stadium 90 minutes before and after major events.
In addition to this, 18 new parking sites have been identified and e-scooters will be deployed to these locations daily. No parking zones have been identified to prevent e-scooters from being left in and around nature reserves.
Later this week, new legislation to strengthen current drug and alcohol legislation as it applies to e-scooters and other personal mobility devices will be debated in the Assembly.
When he introduced the swathe of amendments last year, Mr Steel said the stricter penalties introduced under the new laws would address some issues around people thinking it was okay to jump on an e-scooter to get home after a big night out on the town.
Anyone caught scootering under the influence could face fines of up to $3200.
“This new offence makes it clear it’s not acceptable to have a night of heavy drinking, jump on a scooter and risk your own safety and that of others,” he said.
An annual report hearing earlier this month was also told the ACT Government was considering implementing no-park zones outside popular nightspots or targeted curfews to make the devices harder to access at times and in locations when it was highly likely riders would be intoxicated.
Both Beam and Neuron welcomed the news that they would be able to further expand their operations.
Canberra lead for Beam Ned Dale said the company anticipated a particular increase in riders commuting to work with this new expansion and planned to support this with subscription passes to make regular use of the e-scooters more affordable.
He said an additional 150 new e-scooters would be brought on to support the expansion, but their “commitment [was] first and foremost to the safety of both the riding and non-riding community, and ensuring rider compliance with the ACT legislation”.
Neuron head of Australia/New Zealand Richard Hannah said he was delighted to be extending Canberra’s existing riding area to better connect residents and businesses in Belconnen.
Mr Hannah thanked the ACT Government for their “continued trust and support”.