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E-scooter debate continues at Walkaway Agenda Forum as Geraldton councillors await next week’s vote

Lachlan AllenGeraldton Guardian
City of Greater Geraldton councillors are set to vote at next Tuesday’s ordinary council meeting on a proposed e-scooter hire service.
Camera IconCity of Greater Geraldton councillors are set to vote at next Tuesday’s ordinary council meeting on a proposed e-scooter hire service. Credit: Kelsey Reid/The West Australian

City of Greater Geraldton councillors raised safety concerns during debate of a proposed e-scooter hire trial at Tuesday’s agenda forum in Walkaway.

They are set to vote on proposals from three e-scooter hire service companies at next Tuesday’s ordinary council meeting.

Executive staff have recommended a 15-month trial to one of three proponents, with community response to have a big bearing on the trial.

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

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Researchers from Australia’s Charles Darwin University and the 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”.

A number of concerns were raised by councillors at Tuesday’s meeting, with safety at the forefront of discussions.

Councillor Michael Librizzi queried the geofencing capabilities of the scooters.

Mayor Shane Van Styn explained that the technology would allow the e-scooter company to designate speed limits for certain streets in the city, while it could also control the boundaries in which the scooters could operate.

Furthermore, he said they could potentially lock off the e-scooters for certain events and days, as well establish zones and public areas for the scooters.

“Those technologies certainly exist,” Mr Van Styn said.

Councillor Michael Librizzi questioned whether the city would have to foot the bill for an e-scooter accident.

Mr Van Styn said the e-scooter companies were required to provide third-party insurance for riders.

Councillor Michael Reymond raised the issue of how private scooter users would be treated compared to those who used a hire service.

As a e-scooter user himself, Mr Van Styn said there was a slight different in usage between private scooter users and hire service users.

“It’s important to remember this is a trial, hopefully these questions will be answered during the trial,” a city spokesperson said.

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