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Monday, April 12, 2021

Poor e-scooter parking poses a potential hazard

While rental e-scooters have proved a hit across Canberra – one provider has already clocked over 100,000 trips – the community is being reminded of their e-scooter parking obligations.

While overwhelmingly positive, there have been several teething issues as the community adjusts to the popular new mode of transport.

In October, ACT Policing reminded e-scooter riders of their responsibilities regarding speed, helmet usage and on-road travel.

Now Vision Australia are prompting Canberrans to be considerate of those who are blind or low vision, and anyone with limited mobility when their trip is up, as inappropriate e-scooter parking obscuring footpaths and entryways pose a potential hazard.

Kendra Wells, Vision Australia Canberra regional client services manager, told Canberra Weekly she has been concerned by the number of e-scooters she has noticed being left in the way.

“They just stop randomly,” she said. “It’s really difficult for our clients to know they are there.

“I’ve seen them in front of ramps, in front of stairs and around corners so people can’t see them.

“They’re not actually easy to move then when they’re stopped.”

While Ms Wells hasn’t yet received a report of a low vision or blind person suffering injury from a poorly parked e-scooter, she believed such an incident is “imminent”.

“I live with low vision myself so I guess I can see the danger,” she said.

For Ms Wells, it’s important the community is aware of the danger poorly parked e-scooters pose not just for blind and low vision people, but others with limited mobility too.

“If people just could take care to put them to the side so they’re not across pathways or in people’s walkways,” she said.

“They need to just have that awareness, so they think about it when they put the scooter to the side.”

Government and providers take parking compliance ‘very seriously’

ACT Government permit conditions for rental e-scooter businesses prohibit the vehicles being left or parked predominantly in areas used by the vision impaired.

These areas include tactile pads on pavements or within 1.5 metres of any building wall that is within a public place.

They are also not to be left in a public thoroughfare unless there is a clearance of two metres to allow people to move through the space.

A Transport Canberra and City Services spokesperson told Canberra Weekly that to date ACT Government City Rangers have only needed to respond to six complaints relating to e-scooters since the scheme began.

“This is in part because the e-scooters are all GPS-connected and operators are quick to move e-scooters that are parked in areas where they should not be,” they said.

Spokespersons for Canberra’s two rental e-scooter providers, Beam and Neuron, told Canberra Weekly they take parking compliance “very seriously”.

Both providers work closely with businesses to resolve issues, which can include to create no parking zone, where they have requested, to prevent scooters from being parked, or set up preferred parking stations to encourage patronage at their venues.

Through their apps, they encourage and disincentivise riders to park in specific parking locations.

They also require an end of the trip photo that can be audited to ensure the e-scooter is in the correct position.

“We have seen strong compliance with our parking program in Canberra – but as the service is new there have been a small number of complaints from the public about e-scooter parking,” the Beam spokesperson said.

“We work to respond immediately to every inquiry about parking and move inappropriately parked scooters in a timely manner.”

The Neuron spokesperson said their operations teams “work around the clock repositioning e-scooters safely and moving them to areas where they are needed most”.

“While we can’t eliminate bad parking entirely, we continue to introduce measures to reduce it as much as possible,” the Neuron spokesperson said. “Thankfully, we have received very few complaints since launching Canberra.”

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