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

Ian Bushnell 10 January 2021 58
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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58 Responses to Government needs to recharge e-scooter rules as careless behaviour drains community goodwill
Adam Jovanovic Adam Jovanovic 7:18 am 11 Jan 21

I've had to take scooters back to the shops twice after some random thinks its OK just to dump it on my front yard for whatever reason

    Kytie Mclign Kytie Mclign 8:00 am 11 Jan 21

    Adam Jovanovic The eScooters are GPS-enabled, so They actually can be left on a nature strip / verge - probably their own, though.

    Ian Don Ian Don 8:55 am 11 Jan 21

    Adam Jovanovic why. The mob running the scooters have then tracked with gps and will drive around to collect/recharge/reposition as needed.

Brad Rogers Brad Rogers 7:22 am 11 Jan 21

A few idiots do the wrong thing as expected, so ban them? *yawn*

    Peter Harney Peter Harney 9:09 am 11 Jan 21

    Brad Rogers *shrug* Governments love their knee-jerk reactions..

    Nick Savino Nick Savino 11:19 am 11 Jan 21

    Agreed a nothing story again

    Randy Goldberg Randy Goldberg 11:36 am 11 Jan 21

    Brad Rogers please define "a few". I have seen lots (15 to 20) "incidents" where the scooters are being used by children definitely under 18.

    I've seen half a dozen racing "incidents", usage on streets when there were footpaths, multiple people on one scooter, and let's not get started on the number of people not wearing helmets.

    I am not saying to ban the scooters but, maybe a system where the scooters are picked up/returned to allocated depots and the scooters should be locked to a pole/other scooters and only unlocked when tapped to activate and can only be "returned" when locked back up at a depot otherwise, the clock keeps running and the charges keep going until a daily maximum is reached.

    I know it wouldn't be as convenient as the drop and go anywhere logic but it might help with the random abandoning actions happening now.

Dane Roberts Dane Roberts 7:27 am 11 Jan 21

Old Man Yells At Cars

Pam Perkins Pam Perkins 7:29 am 11 Jan 21

Same in Adelaide dumped everywhere

Guy Speake Guy Speake 7:36 am 11 Jan 21

Captain Buzzkill rides again.

Guy Hosking Guy Hosking 7:55 am 11 Jan 21

The problem is that none of the users seem to be aware that they must give way to pedestrians. The anti-social element that deliberately parks to block footpaths doesn't help their cause either. I've seen them parked three in a row across the footpath at Dickson shops and at Haig Park.

    Kytie Mclign Kytie Mclign 8:01 am 11 Jan 21

    Guy Hosking They are supposrd to be left on public land, usually a nature strip / verge.

    Guy Hosking Guy Hosking 8:07 am 11 Jan 21

    Kytie Mclign Yes but not deliberately blocking footpaths when there was plenty of room elsewhere at Haig Park.

Stephen Saunders Stephen Saunders 7:59 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.

    JC JC 6:50 pm 11 Jan 21

    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.

Tara Murray Tara Murray 8:03 am 11 Jan 21

This is why we cant have nice things 🙄🤦‍♀️

Matthew Waugh Matthew Waugh 8:13 am 11 Jan 21

If the government bans Escooters will all the people who have paid for private ones be able to return them to an access Canberra shopfront and get a payment? It would be highly unfair for those that have paid $1k+ to then have an asset that they cannot use just because some people are wankers and can’t share the path

    Jesse Mahoney Jesse Mahoney 8:29 am 11 Jan 21

    Matthew Waugh read the article. It has nothing to do with privately owned escooters.

    Rainer Busacker Rainer Busacker 5:13 pm 11 Jan 21

    Matthew Waugh I don't think it's about ownership, rather the littering of public places by the users of who abandon them when finished. Personally, I would like to see the commercial hire of them banned.

Tama Ra Tama Ra 8:26 am 11 Jan 21

it'll take a while for people to learn how to not be idiots. give them time.

    Jesse Mahoney Jesse Mahoney 8:30 am 11 Jan 21

    Tama Ra history in other cities in Australia, and around the globe, suggests otherwise.

    Tama Ra Tama Ra 8:32 am 11 Jan 21

    Please link this history @jessemahoney, what sources have you gotten that opinion from?

    Lisa Mahon Lisa Mahon 11:18 am 11 Jan 21

    I dont know Tama Ra how many years have Canberrans had to learn how to not be idiots in cars and yet they still can't merge like a zipper or keep left unless overtaking 🤣

    Nick Savino Nick Savino 11:21 am 11 Jan 21

    Police could walk around Civic and get up the idiots its not hard

    Jeff O'Regan Jeff O'Regan 1:35 pm 11 Jan 21

    What Police!! we have a Police force do we?

    Anthony Grice Anthony Grice 2:39 pm 11 Jan 21

    Tama Ra nah... The human race will be extinct* before then.. 😉

    Rainer Busacker Rainer Busacker 5:15 pm 11 Jan 21

    Nick Savino oh, come on, there are not enough police to do the important things in this town.

    Rainer Busacker Rainer Busacker 5:16 pm 11 Jan 21

    Anthony Grice distinct or extinct?

    Dan Smith Dan Smith 7:21 am 12 Jan 21

    Zero police on the streets = people being idiots. Not rocket science Mr Barr. Get a local force for community policing please. Doesn’t need to be huge but needs to have a visible presence.

    Jesse Mahoney Jesse Mahoney 10:34 pm 12 Jan 21

    Tama Ra you've never travelled and seen share scooters and bikes dumped, trashed, or gutted for batteries?

Robert Hawes Robert Hawes 9:55 am 11 Jan 21

The article contains only one suggestion as to what should be done. That is to reduce their top speed.

Mike Diy Mike Diy 9:58 am 11 Jan 21

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.

Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 11:37 am 11 Jan 21

Fortunately here in the inner south I haven't seen a problem with the scooters yet. I often see them neatly lined up at the local shops. Also some have been left in my street, but they weren't interfering with anyone, and the next day or two they were gone. Driving around Canberra I also see them in places, and the overwhelming majority of the scooters have been left in a safe way. A small minority of them could have been parked in a better place (such as not on a lawned slope where they fell over), but even most of those were not hazardous. As for Civic, the last time I was there was a couple of weeks ago, and I don't remember seeing any problems with scooters. One parked where I wanted to tie my bike, but that's jealously on my part, as they got the spot I wanted, not that the scooter rider had done the wrong thing.

Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 11:57 am 11 Jan 21

Old man continues to believe he is the voice of Canberrra.

Tim Benson Tim Benson 12:33 pm 11 Jan 21

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 Pinner Michael Pinner 6:08 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

Jody Maree Harrison Jody Maree Harrison 1:36 pm 11 Jan 21

People just don’t give a rats but they will care if they get billed for recklessness , dumping leaving them in stupid places even half way down the motorway 🤷🏿‍♀️

Mind you you carnt even get right away walking across a road without getting peeped by merch drivers even when the little green man is flashing you to go .

Mark Prevost Mark Prevost 5:06 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.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 5:30 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.

Shayne Borger Shayne Borger 7:14 pm 11 Jan 21

Just ban em 🤣

Carlos Santa Carlos Santa 7:28 pm 11 Jan 21

Saturday the drunks were on the road using a milk crate as a seat flying down limestone!

Wtf

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