E-scooter riders put on notice in a bid to improve road safety
Victoria Police have put e-scooter riders on notice after vowing to crack down on illegal rider behaviour in a bid to improve road safety ahead of the warmer months.
Victoria Police Road Policing Command Superintendent Justin Goldsmith said there was still confusion around the rules with the trial e-scooters and privately-owned e-scooters, but warned the onus was on riders to ensure they understood the rules.
“Victoria Police will be increasing its focus on e-scooter riders coming into spring and summer – if you’re using an e-scooter, you should expect to be intercepted and spoken to by police,” he said during a press conference on September 19 at Queensbridge Square.
“Education is always our preference, but we won’t hesitate to issue infringements for non-compliance and blatant disregard for the rules – particularly if it involves putting other road users’ safety at risk.”
On-the-spot fines of $185 or more can be issued for non-compliance with trial e-scooter rules.
The presence of bright orange and green scooters in the city — from companies Neuron Mobility and Lime respectively — is part of a 12-month, three-local government trial that started earlier this year.
But their place in the transport network has drawn criticism, particularly about how they intersect with pedestrians.
Police have issued 487 e-scooter infringement notices to scooter riders since December 2021 with majority of these including failing to wear a helmet, riding on the footpath, and carrying more than one person.
Strict rules are in place for the trial e-scooters, with Lime and Neuron’s e-scooters featuring pre-set speed limits and parameters to ensure they can only be ridden in trial areas of the CBC including public roads with speeds capped 20km/h.
In addition to enforcing rules around the e-scooter trial, police will target privately-owned e-scooters, which, under current laws, are illegal if they travel more than 10km/h or have a power output greater than 200 watts, and therefore cannot be used on public roads, bike lanes or footpaths in Victoria.
High-powered e-scooters are considered a motor vehicle and riders can receive a $925 fine for using an unregistered vehicle.
Privately-owned e-scooters can only be legally ridden on private property.
E-scooter riders must not use footpaths, with police focussing their attention on ensuring helmets are worn, and only one person aged 18 and over riding on the e-scooter.
Police will also be warning riders that drink and drug driving penalties that apply to motorists also apply to e-scooter users. Those caught riding over 0.05 blood-alcohol limit can lose their driver’s licence.
Jannine Pattison, vice-president of residents’ group Southbank 3006, applauded the crackdown but questioned whether it was best to invest in education rather than “handing out fines”.
“There is no doubt that micro transport, and scooters in particular play an integral part of the future of personal transportation. But what seems to be lacking is a fundamental law governing the use of scooters,” she said.
“Much like road rules and cycling rules, scooter riders need a clear message on how, when, where and by whom, scooters may be used.”
Ms Pattison said leisure riders using hire scooters appeared to pose a much greater risk to the community than those ridden by private owners.
“With the implementation of kilometres of bike lanes, we should be encouraging responsible scooter riders, as, like bikes, scooters reduce congestion and pollution, making them a greener and more sustainable mode of transportation.”
Southbank Residents’ Association (SRA) president Tony Penna also welcomed the crackdown but believed an education campaign was just as important.
The police clampdown comes after a 28-year-old man died following an e-scooter crash in Pascoe Vale on September 30. The rider was not wearing a helmet.
Walkers Victoria’s acting executive officer Duane Burtt said a ramp up in enforcement would help improve safety as e-scooters had presented a “real problem” for walkers, particularly older people, people with disability and families with young kids.
“There are so many loopholes in the company insurance policies, they will usually escape liability if a person is seriously injured by someone riding one of their scooters,” he said.
“The government needs to extend TAC coverage, or something similar, to walkers injured by an e-scooter, bike or mobility scooter.”
Mr Burtt added more bike lanes were needed on main roads and traffic calmed local streets for bike and e-scooter riders, while adding the state government should undertake a broader education campaign to direct e-scooter users to permitted roads and paths and encourage drivers to accept and respect them on the road. •