7 February 2023

Probing the polls: public holidays and the end of the great Canberra scooter experiment?

| Genevieve Jacobs
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woman on scooter

Are we over e-scooters? Or can one ride them in a sensible and intelligent fashion? Photo: Michelle Kroll.

January 26 has come and gone, attracting more controversy as the campaign to change the date continues.

The new Federal Government’s decision to allow public servants to work through the day if they chose – and the subsequent arguments inside those departments about whether other holidays were mandated in enterprise bargaining agreements – added a further layer of complexity to the question of what a public holiday is, and whether you can be forced to take one.

Is a public holiday really a holiday if people can pick and choose whether they work or not? What happens to the concept of a national day if a growing number of people don’t participate?

We asked, Should taking the Australia Day public holiday be mandatory? Some 812 readers voted.

Your choices to vote were: No, people can exercise their conscience. This received 45 per cent of the total, or 369 votes. Alternatively, you could vote: Yes, it should be a holiday for everyone. This received 55 per cent of the total, or 443 votes, making it a close winner.

This week, we’re wondering about whether scooters have had their day. The city of Paris says that on analysis, e-scooters don’t make sense, as Ian Bushnell reported recently.

READ ALSO Fed-up Paris may ban hire scooters but Canberra powers on

“They are in the way and they are dangerous,” Deputy Mayor for Urban Transport David Belliard said, adding he favoured a ban to “pacify our streets and pavements”.

On 2 April, Parisians will vote on a referendum asking: “Do we or don’t we continue with free-floating rental scooters?” The vote is expected to be close, with influential Mayor Anne Hidalgo learning towards a ban.

In Canberra, the hire scheme operated by Neuron and Beam has been recently expanded to suburbs in Woden, Weston, Molonglo and Tuggeranong, Gungahlin and Yarralumla after Belconnen became the first district to be connected to the initial city zone in April.

Some readers love the electric scooters, noting how useful they are for short trips. But not everyone is a fan.

Souhair Naoum said: “They are always left in the middle of a footpath. So infuriating and dangerous.” Another reader wrote: “No-one said Canberrans were very smart … but let’s see a few more scooter riders die first, maybe the charging station could catch fire again, belching toxic ‘climate friendly’ smoke again!”

Are you over e-scooters?

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As a cyclist I have had so many close calls with inexperienced scooter riders or those with no situational awareness riding these pay-as-you-go public scooters in Canberra. Often they are swerving all over the bike paths and lanes with the riders wearing headphones (and as such no helmet!) so they are completely oblivious to other uses of the paths. Having to dodge abandoned scooters that are left lying on the ground is also dangerous as it often requires a cyclist to move off the path or onto the road.

One has to earn a licence to drive a car. Someone mearly needs a phone to ride the scooter.

Unrestrained dogs (and ineffectively restrained dogs on long and/or extendable leashes) are a far more common hazard – I wish I could say I’d only had close calls.
And then their owners are always so entitled to occupy all lanes of what are supposed to be “shared” paths (and then threaten violence to anyone who tries to remind them of their responsibility to keep their dog under control).

Are the CCTV cameras attached to the bikes also reporting back to CCP like the cameras in all the government buildings?
The issue wouldn’t be so bad if people just owned the bikes and didnt leave them everywhere. However instead of ownership, we’re only allowed socialist scooter companies.

Capital Retro10:37 pm 08 Feb 23

These pesky e-scooters are more invasive than cane toads – and uglier.

They are now strewn all over the Erindale shopping area. They are a hazard to older people trying to maneuver a loaded shopping trolley to the car park but so far I have won all encounters with them.

A pox on them and the people who allowed them into the territory.

Christine Stevens. You clearly never spend time in Civic. It is not funny for the mobility impaired to find hire scooters strew EVERYWHERE. Take a quick count next time you are in Civic. Bonus points for every orange helmet you spot, nowhere near its scooter. I spotted 27 abandoned helmets in an hour walk at lunchtime. I also drove along Belconnen Way with a scooter driver scooting in the middle of the lane, in the dark, wearing black. What a shame they didn’t die…according to you that would be funny.

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