E-scooters on the agenda: Geraldton council set to award electric scooter hire trial next week

Lachlan AllenGeraldton Guardian
Geraldton locals and tourists will soon have access to e-scooters for hire.
Camera IconGeraldton locals and tourists will soon have access to e-scooters for hire. Credit: The West Australian

The City of Greater Geraldton Council is set to accelerate an e-scooter hire service, with councillors urged to green-light a trial to one of three proposed companies at next week’s council meeting.

In his report to council, CEO Ross McKim recommends the trial be initially set to last 15 months but extended or cut short depending on community response to the program.

The establishment of an e-scooter hire business is expected to create between 20 and 50 new local jobs.

This local development comes after a spate of deaths and injuries involving e-scooters, including alarming CCTV footage released last week of a grandmother slammed to the ground by a speeding e-scooter on a footpath in East Victoria Park who ended up in hospital with broken collarbones.

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Australian researchers from Charles Darwin University and University of New England published a report that found e-scooters were “invading the footpath in numerous cities in Australia” and questioned the legal meaning of a “pedestrian”.

Researchers claimed the motorised devices had turned the footpath into the “wild west — the survival of the fittest”.

The City has acknowledged the risks associated with e-scooters including poor rider behaviour, speeding, riding in inappropriate locations and dumping.

However, Mayor Shane Van Styn said the businesses who want to run the hire service have provided details on how these matters would be managed within their submissions.

“Part of the evaluation process for the three tenderers who have expressed interest, is how they can control speeds using their GPS technology on some scooters, obviously looking at geofencing capability and the like to ensure that they can keep people as safe as possible,” he said.

Mr Van Styn said the trial would be evaluated for its commerciality by the electric scooter companies, while the City would also assess the safety impacts, usage and visual amenity.

“We’re looking at the opportunity for people to be able to traverse greater areas of the CBD and indeed the suburbs, it could provide a cheap form of transport in and around the city, it also does provide a fun activity for people that want to enjoy our normally, great climate, weather and wide open spaces,” he said.

The mayor said the response of the community would have a big impact on the success of the trial.

“I’ve seen e-scooters being rolled out in many cities, particularly right through New Zealand recently, and the community used them extremely diligently and responsibly,” he said.

“I’d hope that Geraldton shows them the respect that they deserved. It’s a trial, low-cost way of transport and I’m looking forward to people taking part in a responsible manner.”

Councillors will vote on the matter next Tuesday.

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