E-scooter share on cards

An e-scooter share scheme set up in Taunton, England. Photo by Geof Sheppard under Creative Commons

AN e-scooter share scheme is in the works for the CBD with Perth council voting to scope out a two trial, but they’re taking a cautious approach given safety concerns.

New state government rules in December 2021 legalised e-scooters but put strict and confusing limits on their use. They can now trundle along footpaths at 10kmh, and up to 25kmh on bike paths and some local roads as long as the posted speed limit is 50kmh or less and there’s no road markings. 

Now some inner city councils, Kings Park, and UWA are keen to get a joint e-scooter share scheme going, with Perth council leading the project and looking for private operators to set up docking stations.

There was concern over the safety of e-scooters as there’s been two deaths since scooters were legalised and a lot of accidents.

Perth councillors requested stats on how many injuries were associated with e-scooters but the data’s not available: The numbers are sprawled across computers in health departments, hospitals, police stations and the insurance commission, and there’s no specific road user class for 

e-scooters making for no uniform classification between those bodies. 

Councillor Clyde Bevan noted recent estimates of 250 e-scooter accidents and two deaths, and said: “I would just like to see designated pathways for them, for safety reasons.”

Lord mayor Basil Zempilas said “rigour around the safety and rules and regulations will be particularly important. However I’m sure the same rigour needed to be applied when motor vehicles first burst onto the scene and bikes made their way into our lives.

“And it is my belief, and I think the belief of many, that e-scooters are a part of modern city life and so I welcome the opportunity to see the City of Perth benefit from this trial.”

Councillor Liam Gobbert gets around town on an e-scooter and has looked into some safety options for the trial which will let the scheme’s operators program in strict controls preventing speeding.

He said they could stipulate “that the software limits the speeds of these riders to 10kmh on footpaths, and where they are able to access cycle lanes, to 25kmh. 

“I take the points that have been raised around safety, but I’m confident we can capably address safety issues.”

Only councillor Viktor Ko voted against the trial but didn’t weigh in on its merits this week. However prior to being elected Dr Ko said he didn’t support scooter or bike rental schemes because he’d seen them become an issue for councils when bikes get dumped.

Melbourne used to run a bike share scheme, but instead of returning the bikes to the proper docking stations many people left them lying on footpaths, hung them from trees, wedged them atop street signs and fences, hurled them onto roofs, and several dozen were thrown into the Yarra River.

A condition of the Perth trial is that any operator has to outline “what incentives/disincentives could be implemented to encourage users to return or dock e-scooters safely and appropriately after use”. They’ll also consider a programmed cut-off to deactivate the e-scooters “after hours to mitigate vandalism”, but there’s no word yet on what respectable e-scootering hours might be.

by DAVID BELL

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