11 August 2021
E-scooters – a safe, convenient and renewable transport solution for Tasmanian cities
When Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein rolled into a media conference on an e-scooter during the last state election campaign, he put the wheels in motion for an exciting new, safe, convenient and renewable transport solution for Tasmania that will stimulate small business and reduce our carbon footprint.
Now both Hobart and Launceston are poised to announce a trial of shared e-scooters in both cities at the end of this month which has the potential to change the way in which people see the city and travel the last mile of their journey.
As a long-time motorist and advocate of cars as a means of transporting people into our city’s CBD, I must admit to having been initially sceptical of these new devices. But having done a bit of research and ridden one myself, I am now unashamedly a supporter.
The great thing about e-scooters is that they provide what is known as “last mile transport”, allowing people to park their cars a relative distance from their intended destination (such as the CBD) and then use the e-scooter to travel the final distance.
A survey of Darwin scooters found 83 per cent of users used e-scooters to attend restaurants, cafes and exploring the city, and that 14 per cent of trips taken wouldn’t have happened without access to e-scooters.
This same benefit applies to those who catch public transport into town, including not just buses but also the new Derwent Ferry.
By giving people (for example) living in Hobart’s growing eastern shore, northern suburbs or Kingston regions the option to pick up an e-scooter for their last-mile transport after they catch a ferry or bus into the CBD, there is added incentive to leave the car at home, without the losing the ability to travel within the city easily.
This increased access to outlying regions of the city which is the key to the introduction of e-scooters for Tasmanian small business, revitalising cities beyond the central business districts and stimulating often run down outer urban centres.
Not to mention that e-scooters are good for the environment – in Darwin, where e-scooters are now common-place, a survey found some 70,000 car journeys were replaced each month for this new form of transport, mitigating some 73 tonnes of C02 emission over a ten-month period.
While I understand that some in the community are concerned by this change, it is important to hold in mind in the many other Australian cities where scooters have been allowed to operate over the last number of years, such as Brisbane, research has found e-scooters are no more likely to have an accident than a bicycle.
For example, according to data provided by ride share e-scooter operator Neuron, accidents requiring a rider to seek medical attention is at 1.6 accidents for every 100,000 kilometres travelled, while serious accidents involving pedestrians are very rare with only a handful occurring in some 2.5 million trips.
Ride-share e-scooters of the type being contemplated for roll-out by Hobart and Launceston City Council’s also have built in safety features such as helmets, and electronic speed limiting. They are also incredibly easy to ride, even for those who have never ridden one before.
Riders must also be at least 18 years of age, and are not permitted to operate a ride-share e-scooter while under the influence of alcohol.
Additionally, as part of the introduction of the new laws which will properly regulate e-scooters, the State Government is likely undertake to an extensive education campaign to ensure the pedestrian public and road users alike are aware of the dos and don’ts associated with e-scooters.
So while no doubt there will be some issues and challenges as a result of the introduction of e-scooters in Tasmania, if the experience elsewhere is anything to go by, not only do they reduce traffic congestion and carbon emissions, but just as importantly they stimulate business.
Given the current issues associated with the impacts of the Covid pandemic, anything than can achieve this should be applauded, so I welcome the introduction of legal e-scooters in Tasmania.
Robert Mallett is the Chief Executive Officer of the Tasmanian Small Business Council
TASMANIAN SMALL BUSINESS COUNCIL
0408 144 884