City News

E-scooter trial for Sydney’s inner city blocked by council over safety issues

E-scooters

Shared-scheme scooters would be allowed under government trial conditions. Photo: commons.wikimedia.org.

By ERIN MODARO

The City of Sydney council has decided not to go ahead with trialling e-scooters in the inner city, after safety issues and a lack of appropriate infrastructure were raised at a recent council meeting. A motion put forward by Councillor Shauna Jarrett to begin the trial was amended, meaning council will “monitor” trials in other locations before going ahead.

Earlier in the year, NSW Active Transport Minister Rob Stokes announced the state government would be giving councils the option to partake in an e-scooter trial. As e-scooters are currently banned in NSW, Minister Stokes said a trial of e-scooters would “recognise their increasing popularity”.

Councillor HY William Chan, who raised safety concerns about the e-scooter trial, said that under the NSW government trial conditions, riding would only be allowed on bike paths and shared paths.

“At the moment, most trips would not qualify due to fragmentation of the city’s cycleway network” Cr Chan said. He calls for the improvement of cycleways and infrastructure before a trial should begin in the inner city.

Cr Chan says council has a “responsibility to ensure rider and pedestrian safety by prioritising the appropriate infrastructure”. He notes that after a Brisbane e-scooter trial, hospitals began seeing an increase in e-mobility injuries, 92% of which were related to e-scooters, and 78% related to sharing scheme e-scooters.

“We need a sensible and comprehensive approach to city transport to ensure people can get into and around the CBD conveniently, cheaply, sustainably and safely.”

In 2019, the City of Sydney Council said they would support the implementation of a trial if it did occur, but the motion also noted that there was “likely to be significant safety issues in the City compared to other locations”.

Councillor says City of Sydney needs to live up to it’s ‘green’ name

Cr Jarrett, who raised the recent motion to participate in the e-scooter trial, says that council needs to prioritise sustainable and green travel options.

“By ‘observing’ for 12-18 months how can the City label itself ‘green, global and connected'” Cr Jarrett asked.

She says that council’s amendments to her proposal “relegates the Council’s claim to be a NSW, Australian, world-leading leader in combatting climate-change, enabling alternative forms of transport to mere works and pictures.”

Cr Jarrett says the e-scooter trial would present “many positive benefits that we are looking at for accessible, affordable and climate conscious transport for our urban areas”.

In regard to safety concerns, Cr Jarrett says that “as the leading Council in NSW”, the City of Sydney has the experience and resources necessary to mitigate risk.

“With 1900 staff who are very experienced in risk management, public communications, community consultation and implementing programs – the Council runs bike riding and road safety lessons – so the expertise is there.”

E-scooter popularity soars, NSW wants to be allowed to ride

With every state in Australia now legalising the use of e-scooters, NSW is the only state in which it remains illegal. However NSW residents are pushing for riding to be allowed, after popularity in other states has risen for alternative transport options.

An online petition to legalise e-scooters in NSW says that “NSW needs to join the rest of the world”, stating that the use of e-scooters would “ensure a greener future for urban mobility”.

One commenter on the petition said that e-scooters are the “best thing for a short commute, and a way of getting less mobile people out and about”.

Trials going ahead in other local government areas in Sydney will have restrictions, including the banning of riding on footpaths and at night. Riders will be confined to 25km/hr speed limits, and limits of 10km/hr on shared paths.

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