Lord Mayor calls for safer e-scooter use as operators face ban if they “can’t meet minimum standards”
E-scooter operators could lose their licence “if they can’t meet minimum standards around safety”, City of Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp has warned.
Cr Capp is calling for a “better, safer and a clearer set of regulations and enforcement” of electric scooter use as the council prepares a position report on the future of e-scooters.
She said these included requests for operators to have access to technology that “is required to better manage compliance with the rules” including the ability detect tandem riding, and the non-wearing of helmets and riding in non-permitted areas.
E-scooters have become increasingly popular in the city, with more than 1.3 million short trips being undertaken since the Neuron and Lime trials began in February last year across the Melbourne, Port Phillip, and Yarra councils.
In April, the state government extended the e-scooters and e-bikes trial until October, which included legalising the previously banned use of private e-scooters. However, growing reports of near misses and people being struck on footpaths has sparked controversy due to safety concerns.
In response, Cr Capp successfully moved a motion at the council’s June 13 Future Melbourne Committee meeting, “to make sure that our e-scooter system works well for everybody”.
“How does the geospatial technology manage or stop people riding on our pavements? How does it help manage where e-scooters are parked? These are the sorts of efforts we would like to see more of,” Ms Capp questioned at the meeting.
“Whoever comes in, and whoever continues to operate in our municipality, [we will ensure] that we’ve got very clear expectations on what will be delivered and how we can enforce and manage those [unsafe human] behaviours going forward using every measure in our toolbox.”
Cr Capp said while the operation of the shared e-scooter scheme “has been incredibly positive for our city” and “vital part of our transport network”, safety remained paramount.
Unfortunately, it’s residents worried about safety on our pavements, it’s traders worried about their customers stepping into and out of their stores, [and] it’s people with disabilities concerned about the way that they are parked across our pavements.
The council’s position report will also address the “adequacy and efficiency of powers available to local laws officers to keep footpaths safe” and seek advice from the council’s Disability Advisory Committee.
Among those to have been struck by an e-scooter rider was Annette Miller, 68, who counted herself lucky not to have suffered any injuries.
The incident happened as she was walking with two friends at the front of the National Gallery of Victoria on June 8 about 10.20am.
“Because it was wet, it pushed my feet from under me … I didn’t even have time to react,” she said, adding “it happened too quickly.”
“One of my hands touched the ground but it was fortunate I had leather gloves on.”
Southbank News reporter Rhonda Dredge witnessed the collision, saying “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing”.
“Two men on scooters were hooning along the footpath towards the south. The next thing I saw was that a woman was knocked off her feet.”
In his submission to the council, Southbank Residents Association president Tony Penna commended a position report, noting that there was a “consistent presence of scooters blocking footpaths and a hesitance from pedestrians about how to avoid scooters heading towards them”.
“SRA is broadly in support of the motion and sees the use of e-scooters as a positive strategy in reducing city congestion. However, the proposed motion does not give sufficient specificity to the expected outcomes, nor does it address other concerns about the use of e-scooters,” he said. •