If you haven't noticed them already, we are sure you will soon be well aware that e-scooter have finally hit the streets of Melbourne.
1500 green and orange scooters have been deployed in the participating council areas of Melbourne, Yarra and Port Phillip as part of a 12 month trial, which could be extended based on the outcomes.
The scooters, from micromobility operators Lime (green) and Neuron (orange) are available for $1 unlocking fee plus a 45 cent/min operating cost, charged through the respective apps.
But, can they go in bike lanes?
Yes. The trial will allow people to hire e-scooters and ride them on bicycle lanes, shared paths and lower speed roads (up to 50km/h) within the participating local government areas.
The scooters are programmed by each operator to not go over 20km/h and not function on footpaths or outside of approved areas.
You don't need a license to ride, but your license can be cancelled or suspended for misconduct including drink or drug driving infringements.
Of course, e-scooters don't go anywhere without some controversy, with Twitter and talk-back radio lapping up complaints about the latest addition to our transport network on the first day of operation.
So, what do we make of them?
Of course, Bicycle Network will always encourage people to use bikes to get the maximum health benefits, but we warmly invite trials of e-scooter sharing schemes across our capital cities.
These trials offer a means to bring to people back into CBDs and help people move between suburbs, shopping districts and business precincts as we begin to recover from the impacts of the pandemic.
Though the physical activity benefits may be lost on e-scooters, more people swapping private car travel for e-scooters will decongest our major roads, reduce carbon footprint and help to create more liveable cities.
If there is a significant uptake in people riding scooters, this may stimulate more investment in active travel networks to allow more people to move around safely without cars. We view these as positive outcomes for anyone riding an e-scooter, bike or other personal mobility device.
We recognise that welcoming new users into bike lanes will undoubtedly cause some friction. Therefore, we encourage everyone, no matter how they choose to move around, to be respectful of others and to offer the same courtesy they expect to receive.
Bicycle Network will be keenly monitoring the response with bike riders' interest at heart, and will be advocating for more places to ride as demand for space increases, as well as appropriate places to park the scooters when not in use (see images below).
❌ A poor example of scooters placed in front of bike hoops, taken in Melbourne today.
✔️ A good example of dedicated scooter parking bays from overseas.
We also recommend that state and local governments make a concerted effort to ensure that e-scooters and other personal mobility devices are not illegally modified or enhanced to achieve speeds beyond that which is legislated.
With the trial now underway, the time is ideal for authorities to ensure that other privately owned electric transport devices comply with legal requirements and are ridden in accordance with the rules.
Bicycle Network will continue to prioritise the needs of people riding bikes, and our advocacy will always focus on the best outcomes for bikes. We look forward to working with people riding scooters to make sure we all ride safely and responsibly.
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