NSW councils will trial an “affordable and convenient” way of getting around from July in a bid to ease congestion on our roads.
Parramatta and Wollongong are among the councils where e-scooters could be allowed this winter as the NSW government considers making the vehicles legal.
Active Transport Minister Rob Stokes announced on Thursday an e-scooter trial would launch in July and encouraged councils to participate.
“E-scooters are an affordable, convenient and sustainable method of moving about and it’s important we harness that and recognize their increasing popularity around the world in a safe way,” Mr Stokes said in a statement.
He said the July trial would only include rental scooters, but the government hoped to make the rides, including private ones, legal by Christmas.
Parramatta Mayor Donna Davis said residents in the area would likely be able to take part in the trial.
“We’re a big supporter of active transport in Parramatta and giving our growing community as many options as possible when it comes to traveling in and around our city,” she said.
“Council will definitely consider participating in a trial of electric scooter, and look further into whether it’s the right option for our current mix of active transport links.”
A Wollongong City Council spokeswoman said councilors there were keen as well.
“Wollongong City Council is working with the NSW government on steps we can proactively take to improve a range of active transport options, including e-scooters, in our city,” she said.
“We are keen to explore opportunities like e-scooters as a way to offer an alternative to cars and are preparing an expression of interest for Wollongong to be included in the e-scooter pilot.”
Mr Stokes said the regulations for the trial would be made public in the coming weeks and “geo-fencing technology” would be used to control speeds and monitor where scooters were parked.
“The NSW government will be focused on ensuring that e-scooter regulations are sensitive and appropriate for NSW. Safety is paramount when it comes to e-scooter users and those around them,” he said.
Rental businesses participating in the trial would need to make sure helmets were being used, Mr Stokes’ office said.
The NRMA said it welcomed the trial but said safety should come first.
“It’s an important step to ensure that e-scooters and e-bikes can be transitioned into our transport system safely,” spokesman Peter Khoury said.
“This technology is likely to become more popular in the future, so the trial is critical to ensuring that we address safety issues such as speed limits and how e-scooters and e-bikes interact with other road users.”
E-scooters critics have said e-scooters are dangerous and often end up abandoned, littering sidewalks and waterways.
Fans of the motorized rides say they’re convenient and fast for use for urban travel. Several other Australian cities have already run trials.
A 2020 report by an “electric scooter advisory” working group assembled by Transport for NSW said e-scooters ”may have the potential to transform personal mobility, facilitating first and last mile journeys and freeing up capacity from our congested roads”.
But their use would also necessitate “significant legislative change” and would possibly need to involve a “complex and costly enforcement regimen”, the report found.