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Canberra Today 9°/12° | Wednesday, October 20, 2021 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

E-scooters excite and danger Canberra riders for more thrills

Minister for City Services and Transport, Chris Steel, with Neuron and Beam operators discussing the popular e-scooters. Photo: Andrew Mathieson

POWERING down Belconnen Way, even Gunghalin Drive, into the city behind the popular e-scooter from distant suburbs that bear the names of the thoroughfares is a proposal the ACT government is considering to expand the transport service.

Outspoken Belconnen riders are one group that have already expressed from a government survey that they would like to have a “greater connection” with the rest of Canberra after restrictions are put on where their e-scooters can travel.

Minister for Transport and City Services, Chris Steel, was surprised by the revelation after about a third of respondents say they use the vehicles to commute to work every day.

“We have heard back from the e-scooter operators as well around that they have actually seen people in their data wanting to make those trips that haven’t been able to do so,” Mr Steel said.

“We need to make connections where possible between existing regions for expansion – Gungahlin certainly came up as an area where people have come to us.”

But Mr Steel said fixing up safety measures are paramount first for the scooters, which only weigh little more than 10kgs, before extending possible options from the recent trial.

Similar concerns forced one of the e-scooter operators to offer additional insurance last week to its pre-existing coverage when riders first pay up.

“There is improvements we need to make around safety and regulations,” Mr Steel said.

A number of incidences have been reported of riders flagrantly drinking and driving on the lightweight vehicles in addition to disobeying numerous road laws.

Most offences also relate to riders not wearing helmets, forcing government who initiated the trial last September to review current regulations around e-scooters’ traffic legislation.

“We have been working with ACT policing on the enforcement of road laws relating to the e-scooters since the scheme was rolled out,” Mr Steel said.

“We’ve seen over 35 traffic offences issued and another 18 cautioned, up until February.

“So police are out there and enforcing the road rules.”

Safety has been a serious concern in Canberra since the first ride after every second day of the initial three months had resulted in a single hospitalisation.

The data from Canberra Health Services highlighted the dangers of the e-scooters where anecdotal evidence suggesting that a number of the incidents occurred involving alcohol.

Police were also believed to have attended the emergency departments at Canberra’s two hospitals to conduct breathalyser tests on some of the admissions.

“We just want to make sure (riders) act responsibly,” Mr Steel said.

“We have been running some level of campaign around safety, as well as the companies, Neuron and Beam. But we’re stepping up that level of engagement with the community on safety messages, responding to the feedback that we’ve heard from Canberra.”

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Ian Meikle, editor

Andrew Mathieson

Andrew Mathieson

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