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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Surveys highlight e-scooter safety concerns

E-scooters are a fun, fast way of making short trips around the city – but how safe are they? While many Canberrans have enthusiastically embraced the purple Beam and orange Neuron Mobility vehicles since they were introduced in September, a new survey reveals others are worried about safety, injuries, hooning and abandoned vehicles.

A survey on Canberra Liberals leader Elizabeth Lee’s website has highlighted some safety concerns, while the ACT Government has a six-month review of the scheme underway to improve safety, regulation, and integration with the transport network – including another survey, which closed last Friday.

Ms Lee ran her survey after many Canberrans – users, pedestrians and car drivers – contacted her about making e-scooters safer. More than 600 people responded to her survey.

“There is no doubt most Canberrans are pro e-scooters, and they have been a very popular mode of transport,” she said. “We just need to ensure absolute safety for those riding the scooters and other members of the public.”

Common themes of the survey, she said, included near misses with cars and pedestrians, and a call for lower speed limits at all shopping centres and high pedestrian areas.

The speed limit for e-scooters is 15km/h on footpaths; 25km/h on shared paths and bicycle paths; and 10km/h when approaching and travelling across a crossing.

“A lot of older Canberrans say they feel unsafe at shopping centres,” Ms Lee said. “Not only do they have to worry about trip hazards on uneven pavements, but now they need to look out for speeding e-scooters.

“It is strange that you can scoot through an arcade in Manuka at 25km an hour while you are restricted to 15km an hour around the lake.”

The two e-scooter brands available for hire had different areas geofenced for lower speeds, Ms Lee said. Shebelieves that both companies should geofence for lower speeds at all shopping centres and high pedestrian areas.

“Further geofencing high pedestrian areas, along with further road safety education, seems to be the message we have received from those concerned,” she said.

Canberrans also wanted hire e-scooters to have a greater distance range, Ms Lee said. “You often see small piles of the scooters on the edge of their range in Yarralumla.”

Richard Hannah, Neuron Mobility’s regional manager, said his company worked with the ACT Government to make e-scooters safe, convenient and sustainable.

“To enhance safety, we use geofencing technology to control slow-zones, no-ride zones and no-parking zones. We’ll undoubtedly continue to make changes to these over time.”

Neuron Mobility’s CEO Zachary Wang said feedback from riders had been overwhelmingly positive. According to their survey, 85% of users believed the company benefited the city; and 64% of rides resulted in a purchase at a business.

Neuron e-scooters were built for safety, a spokesperson said, and the company rolled out safety features like helmet locks, emergency call buttons and topple detectors. The company also conducted safety campaigns. Users had to sign up to rules, including not riding under the influence of alcohol, and where and how to park and ride; while voice guidance, stickers on machines, and ‘safety ambassadors’ on the ground reminded riders of rules and safety tips and guidelines.

Beam Mobility’s Christopher Hilton said he was pleased the majority of Canberrans supported e-scooters.

“We always welcome feedback from the public on our service, and we will look closely at the results with the aim of continuing to improve our e-scooter operations.”

Mr Steel reminded e-scooter riders to be responsible and respect the rules put in place to protect the safety of riders and other pedestrians.

“E-scooter riders need to wear helmets, use their judgement, and travel at an appropriate and safe speed. They also need to be respectful to pedestrians and others. That includes parking with consideration for others, and parking off the main path and away from stairs, ramps, light rail stops, bus stops, and entry or exit ways.”

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