Since the release of our 'new reverse traffic pyramid', there has been a lot of talk in transport and planning circles lately about e-scooters, electric bikes and other electronically powered personal transport devices.
With e-scooter hire schemes recently launching in Queensland, South Australia and New Zealand, there have been a number of reports outlining the current state of confusion around where these new transport modes fit into existing systems, and how our future planning should accommodate them.
In the past two weeks alone we've seen:
- Queensland Health preparing an official report to State Government outlining some concerning about emergency ward spikes associated with the scooters arrival on Brisbane streets – with three Brisbane hospitals reporting a combined 88 related injuries in just two months, including head traumas, limb fractures, sprains and strains.
- Electric bike hire companies in the Gold Coast face police and council crackdown as the tourist demand for electric powered bikes increases rapidly. This has led to many residents and local MPs, including Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate, to call for bans on footpath riding, as local electric bike hire companies face an existential crisis.
- Across the ditch, the New Zealand Transport Agency battle confusion over legislative classifications for these new "wheeled recreational devices", as Auckland approves a second company for a 500 e-scooters trial.
- Reports from a Victorian organisation question the real benefits of these new "innovative vehicles", other than being a bit of fun, and call for us to "use the enthusiasm for e-scooters and other ‘innovative vehicles’ to help build better cities. Let’s get them working for us, not us working for them."
- Whilst Adelaide hails their trial period as a great success in busting congestion, "despite a few bumps and bruises", and can't sign up more companies fast enough – approving a four week extension at the same time as two additional six month permits.
As promised, Bicycle Network will continue to keenly monitor how different states and neighbouring countries approach responsive legislation and long-term infrastructure changes to accommodate the growing market of rideables.
In particular, the safety concerns raised when trying to fit these new devices into existing transport systems – and how these concerns weigh-up against the benefits to congestion and omissions that these devices present.
However, as these electronically powered devices fail to address the growing health concerns of a sedentary society, our number one priority remains making it easier for more people to ride bikes and choose active transport – as depicted in our pyramid.
Photo credit: Richard Gosling