10 January 2021

Government needs to recharge e-scooter rules as careless behaviour drains community goodwill

| Ian Bushnell
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Beam e-scooters at Ainslie Place in Civic. Photo: Photox - Canberra Photography Services.

Beam e-scooters at Ainslie Place in Civic. They can end far and wide and not so neatly parked. Photo: Photox – Canberra Photography Services.

It’s time for ACT Government to take another look at the e-scooter hire scheme as the brightly coloured devices litter the landscape, rider injuries mount and the hazards they create on shared paths become more apparent.

There are 1500 trackable scooters available in Belconnen and central Canberra from two companies, Beam and Neuron, which employ teams to collect abandoned machines.

They obviously have their work cut out, with scooters turning up in more places than just beside or on paths. Fishing them out of Lake Burley Griffin and Lake Ginninderra is a priority, but they have also been seen on Parkways, other odd spots, and in suburbs outside of their supposedly geo-fenced zones.

Those left on shared paths are obviously a safety hazard to cyclists and other wheeled users such as those with a disability.

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Many riders themselves have failed to come to grips with the scooters, which have a top speed of 25 km/h, with 60 people presenting to emergency departments at Canberra and Calvary Hospitals with scooter-related injuries in the first few months since their introduction.

This follows the European experience where scooter injuries were rife after their take-up.

Then there are those who flout the road rules, including riding after a few drinks, failing to wear a helmet, or are just plain inconsiderate.

The scooters are supposed to provide a cheap, environmentally friendly way for people to get around, particularly visitors, and some Canberrans have bought their own for commuting but the large number strewn haphazardly around the city and the safety issues raised require a second look.

The government needs to find a way, though carrot or stick, for riders not to be so careless about what they do with the scooters at journey’s end.

It also needs to evaluate whether adding scooters to the increasingly busy shared path network is viable.

Perhaps a reduction in speed limits from the top of 25 km/h on a shared or bike path, and the 15 km/h on a footpath would reduce the incidence of accidents and potential for collisions.

It may have to increase and impose penalties to hit the hip pocket of users as a deterrent.

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All this goes against the spirit of what is supposed to be a fun experience that adds that seemingly all-important vibrancy to the city, at least that’s the pitch from providers.

But the bottom line is they are transportation vehicles using public spaces that need to be regulated so the city amenity is not an eyesore and ensure the wellbeing of citizens.

It’s not yet time to ban the things but to allow the current free-for-all to continue is not a goer.

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Bruce Mcmurtrie1:04 pm 20 Mar 21

Escooters should be treated the same as bicycles and ebicycles as they no similar speeds, have similar mass, and are used for similar trips. Any argument that ebicycles require a you to rotate your legs is lame and just an excuse by people who have a set against escooters. There doesn’t seem to be resistance about bicycle and ebicycles hire schemes. It appears the bicycle political lobby has power.

Regularly see people riding the scooters like they are in a skate park (particularly bad around ANU-why?); lots of “children” riding them (no adults in sight); and lot of people without helmets. The scooters are not the problem, its the users and apparent policing/control.

Why the rage against e-scooters? I ride the paths a lot on my bike and for the most part I see people behaving well and enjoying the scooters. And isn’t the congestion and safety issue more about not enough (separated?) path space rather than more people enjoying our great outdoors in our beautiful city?

Capital Retro8:53 pm 20 Jan 21

They are an unwanted and dangerous distraction for motorists and pedestrians.

Master_Bates5:00 pm 14 Jan 21

When will we see these able to travel around Tuggeranong. We would like them long before the Tram is due to arrive.

Capital Retro7:29 am 21 Jan 21

Some of the hills in Tuggeranong would be a challenge for both electric scooters and trams alike.

Let’s leave it as it is.

I’m not sure if it was a corporately owned one, but the other day I drove past an e-scooter being ridden on a major ACT road in a bicycle lane. I wish that people would think before they place themselves and others in such danger.

russianafroman1:18 pm 14 Jan 21

Things I have seen on social media – Drunk teenagers speeding through glebe park at night and one of them falling off and going to hospital. Teenager jumping 8 feet in the air over someone laying on the ground at night. Multiple burnouts. Drunks outside mooseheads coming two inches from a police officer and turning away at the last second to scare them.

Capital Retro7:38 am 14 Jan 21

The ambulance chasing lawyers (Canberra is full of them) will have a field day soon and unless the government legislates to have riders of these infernal death traps take out personal injury insurance the government will be the only legal respondent.

Ratepayers don’t deserve to underwrite the contingent liability created by a vain minister who has no personal accountability.

Carlos Santa said “Saturday the drunks were on the road using a milk crate as a seat flying down limestone WTF!
Mmm with a top speed of 25km/h that must have been terrifying to witness

25km is too fast at public place. Make the scooter with max speed at 10km.

More e-junk of marginal worth.

Walking works just fine.

HiddenDragon8:15 pm 11 Jan 21

This issue (assuming it is an “issue”) is yet another example of the weirdness of local government in the ACT – which is essentially a cocktail of grey cardigans (or descendants thereof) and assorted other prudes and conformists, affluent neophiliacs and hippies.

The happy medium between regulate everything and let ‘er rip remains ever elusive – as the Beastie Boys so presciently pointed out, just a few years before the blessing of self-government descended upon our town –


Capital Retro8:57 am 12 Jan 21

All the people in that clip look like Labor voters so, is it any wonder we got what we have?

Master_Bates5:01 pm 14 Jan 21

All the people in the ACT are Labour voters 😉

Capital Retro5:30 pm 11 Jan 21

In Tuggers we don’t have these problems. Home invasions and drive by shootings are things we have learned to tolerate instead.

Mark Prevost5:06 pm 11 Jan 21

While I appreciate the fun factor these provide as well as the occassional convenience ( I’ve used them to run around the CBD), there are quite a few issues arising. The destruction of infrastructure is mounting, they present too concerntrated a mass at high speed and paths, in particular paved paths are cracking and subsiding, creating both an aesthetic issue and a potential trip hazard. The destruction of the steps into Glebe Park, a stark example.
I’m also fed up with not sleeping as people woohoo! as the speed past our apartment clacking as the go on the broken pavers (who should pay for these?)
Finally almost having my dog hit several times leads me to agree, a big rethink needs to occur, primarily slowing them to under 15kph in the immediate future and a long hard look as to whether this is really what we want round here.

Great article Ian. Balanced as usual. I must admit, as a resident of Kingston, my initial reaction was rage when they first appeared. I’m surprised no-one has been killed on one of these rental scooters as yet. My observations from my third floor rental apartment on Giles Street include the following: almost no-one wears the provided helmet; road rules are not followed; signals for left and right are not given; milk crates are frequently added as seats; donuts and drag races are common; shifting between the road and pedestrian shared paths is confusing and dangerous for foot traffic and cars alike – they are also left with gay abandon on driveway and nature strips. So, yes, I believe there are a few issues that need to be addressed, primarily for safety reasons. Maybe some ACT Police could do a bit of patrolling on some blue and white scooters and hand out some on the spot fines and do some breath testing … fines could be as little as $20 for not wearing a helmet etc. I like the concept though and the more liberal use of ACT land and regulations … just got to put my brain on how to get in on this new way of doing business … one more point or question really: Is there an age limit to renting and riding these scooters?

Michael Pinner6:08 pm 13 Jan 21

Hi tim i think the age limit is 16 and yes they should be fined for not wearing helmet I agree should be same laws as bikes

There are more injuries and incidents from e-scooters, compared to when there were no e-scooters. Makes sense. In the 1600s there were no injuries or incidents involving motor vehicles, none at all, and now there are. Somebody needs to do something.

Stephen Saunders7:59 am 11 Jan 21

Fair comment. That they can be left any old place, clearly socialises costs and privatises profits. They should all be left at central collection points, with penalties if you don’t. See under, Aldi trolleys.

That is how they are meant to work. Eg can park them only in designated places and park them elsewhere it won’t let you “log off”. Don’t think it works too well though.

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