It may not have been the vaccination incentive anyone was expecting, but more than 200 people have taken up the offer of a free e-scooter ride to get their COVID-19 jab.
Recently Neuron Mobility, the company behind the unmissable orange battery-powered scooters scattered throughout Civic and Belconnen, committed to giving away $100,000 worth of free trips to help more Australians get vaccinated.
To take advantage of the offer, Canberrans needed to download the Neuron Mobility app and follow the vaccination promotion prompts. They then received a $10 voucher to go towards one round trip to the nearest vaccination centre, GP or hospital.
Since the launch on Friday (30 July), just over 200 Canberrans have taken up the offer.
“We know that increasing vaccination rates is an integral step to stopping the spread of COVID-19 and reducing the health, social and economic impacts of the virus in our community,” Neuron Mobility CEO Zachary Wang said.
“Through this initiative, we want to provide greater access to safe transport options for every Australian who is eligible to get vaccinated.”
To access the free ride, clinics and GPs must be located within Neuron Mobility’s riding area. This currently includes Canberra’s inner north and inner south, and parts of Belconnen.
Once people have booked in their COVID-19 vaccination, they are required to fill out a short questionnaire in the Neuron Mobility app, which includes the location of their appointment. This is to ensure they are using the e-scooter for the purpose of getting to their appointment.
The same incentive has also been offered to people in other Australian and New Zealand cities where Neuron Mobility operates.
Rival e-scooter company Beam has no plans at the moment for similar vaccine incentives.
The ACT Government was contacted by Region Media but has made no comment.
COVID-19 has hung over the brightly coloured e-scooters ever since Neuron Mobility first decked out Canberra with them in September 2020. They were marketed as a “safe, convenient and socially distanced way to commute in the city”.
It isn’t the first time the vouchers have been offered, either. Earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of public health workers were issued with free monthly passes from the company.
Normally, a pay-per-ride would cost a user $1, plus 45 cents per minute, although for more regular users, passes for three days, a week, or a month, can be purchased for $25, $35 and $45, respectively.
Neuron Mobility has worked closely with the ACT Government to define how the e-scooters should be used by members of the public. Riders must wear an approved helmet, stick to footpaths wherever possible, and must abide by posted speed limits.
The full list of rules is available on the ACT City Services website.
In October 2020, ACT Policing issued a blunt warning to users: “Be an idiot and you will face the consequences.”
The e-scooters themselves have a few built-in systems to check people attempting to do the wrong thing. A box on the front includes a GPS with geofencing. This tracks where the scooter is at any given time and automatically adjusts the speed where appropriate.
It will also display suitable parking places or prompt the rider if they have left the boundary.
Other features include an app-controlled helmet lock that secures a safety helmet to the e-scooter or e-bike between trips, and a topple detection feature that can detect if it has been left on its side, which then alerts an operations team to reposition it safely.
Other innovations include a 000 (triple zero) emergency button which can tell if someone has had a fall and helps the rider call emergency services.
Voice guidance is also fitted to educate and warn riders how to ride safely.
The e-scooters and e-bikes also feature a ‘Follow My Ride’ function that allows riders to share their trip with friends and family in real time for added safety and peace of mind.