e-Trouble on the footpath

E-bikes and scooters are becoming increasingly popular, but there are concerns there isn’t enough policing, nor regulation, to help prevent them injuring pedestrians. Photo by Steve Grant

A WOMAN suffered a broken leg after being hit by an electric bike on a Beaufort Street footpath recently, highlighting growing concerns about mixing e-vehicles and pedestrians.

On May 5, Anna Lindstedt was hit by the e-bike as she got off a bus on Beaufort Street.

“As I stepped off, the e-bike hit me from behind and I fell onto the ground. The e-bike went on top of me, and I broke my tibia,” she says.

Ms Lindstedt had surgery to insert a plate and screws into her leg to reattach her snapped bone. 

“I had that surgery two weeks ago. I was put in a cast and now I’m in a CAM boot,” she says. “It’s still painful and I can’t put any weight on it.”

Ms Lindstedt says the e-bike rider sanitised and bandaged her grazes and stayed until she went to the hospital, but she didn’t get the opportunity to speak to them about what happened. 

“I have no idea what their thought process was, why they were riding alongside a bus like that or if they just didn’t look. I don’t know where the lapse in judgement came from. We didn’t really speak.”

Ms Lindstedt says she loves the idea of micromobility devices, but she’s always been wary of them while walking to her employment in the CBD.

Whiz past

“I was such an advocate for them before, I thought they were great, but I was a bit afraid of them. Almost every day I’d have one fly past me and because they’re so quiet, you don’t see them coming. People often don’t use bells and they suddenly whiz past you, it’d just freak me out.”

The accident made her realise how little the existing rules are policed and that roads and footpaths aren’t designed to accommodate e-riders.

“Right now, it feels like there’s no safety measures in place,” she says.

Curtin University sustainability scientist Peter Newman says micromobility devices are ultimately better and make local areas more accessible, but acknowledges safety concerns. He thinks that can be overcome with better planning.

“They’re enabling local centres like Fremantle to thrive, and they’re enabling people with mobility issues to get around…they’re already growing globally at 17 per cent per year which is very fast,” Prof Newman said.

“People are already breaking the law because a lot of the imports aren’t regulated, and they get used at great speed and there are dangers. 

“The local council can do a lot more for bikes and that has been an ongoing process.

“There’s going to be a lot more accidents because there’s a lot more use. The reality is that any kind of mobility is dangerous compared to walking and pedestrians are usually the ones that are hit.” 

The Road Safety Commission introduced new regulations in December 2021 using feedback from a community survey.

Road Saftey Commissioner Andrew Warner says people must keep vigilant in shared spaces like roads and footpaths. 

“The biggest risk factor for both eBikes and privately owned eScooters is people modifying them beyond the legal limits,” he says.

by LIV DECLERCK

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s