e-scooters and micro-mobility
e-scooters, like them or hate them, based on community sentiment and previous voting patterns, I think they are here to stay. So lets talk about how to make them work in everyone's interest.
The 12 month trial of Beam and Neuron e-scooters is coming to an end early in the next term of council. Decisions will need to be made about how we move forward with micro-mobility in Hobart City and any conditions that may need to be explored and applied to hire scooter use to make the program a success.
More protected bike lanes
A key priority to support these devices needs to be building significantly more protected bike lanes around Hobart LGA. With the emergence of these novel e-devices, we now recognise that bike lanes are not just for bikes; they give these micro-mobility devices their own space, off the road and off the footpath.
It is the gold standard of the concept of separation by speed. Pedestrians average <10km/hr, e-devices and bikes average 25km/h and cars average 50km/h. So, they each need their own space.
Private e-scooters and micro-mobility
I think there is an important distinction to make between hire e-scooters and private e-scooters (and other micro-mobility devices). Generally, private micro-mobility users are more responsible, they tend to:
Wear their helmets
Be respectful of pedestrians
Be respectful of traffic through local knowledge and sensible route planning
Ride sober, and
I genuinely believe that micro-mobility and e-devices will form a significant part of the transport mix moving forward. Whether that's locals living in inner-city neighbourhoods that use a scooter, skateboard or e-bike to get to and from the city for work or play. Or folks who live further out exploiting the compact nature of new technology in conjunction with public transport for last kilometre trips. These devices are quiet, no-emission devices that take up little road space compared to a car. Some even cart whole families around on the back or front of an e-bike.
They even bust congestion - every scooter, skateboard or bike is one less car on the road.
Because there are so many benefits to private micro-mobility and e-devices, and because a different market is attracted to these devices compared with traditional cycling, I want to encourage the take up of these devices through an interest free loan scheme.
Interest free loan scheme
If elected, I will ask council to explore different models of interest free loan schemes. This loan scheme would essentially be a cost free exercise in busting congestion. A private financial partner would be engaged to administer the loan in the form of an interest free credit card for up to $3000 to be spent only on an e-transport device to be paid back over a three year loan term.
**The State Government offered a similar program 5 years ago called the Tasmanian Energy Efficiency Loan Scheme (TEELS) which was for things like solar, insulation, double glazing etc.
Public hire e-scooters
There are two major problems that are fairly unique to the hire scooters.
Accessibility of footpaths / where they are parked
Accessible footpaths are a priority for me. I've written about how important equal access before. So, I believe one of the key issues that needs to be resolved with Beam and Neuron is where scooters are left. (Bearing in mind that many of the scooters left lying down on the footpath were not left that way, they were knocked over by passers by, hooligans and people with a beef about the scooter program).
If elected I will move a motion that asks Beam and neuron to create dedicated parking zones in the 64 inner-city blocks governed by the Precincts Plan. This would mean you can only park the scooter in a dedicated area limited to one per city block. Where infrastructure upgrades are required to facilitate this, such as curb, guttering and footpath re-alignment, I will also ask that Beam and Neuron contribute 50% of the cost.
Addressing drunk riding through technology rather than policing is the key to abolishing the behaviour. If elected, I will ask that Beam and Neuron to install alcohol interlocks on their scooters. These devices are already used in vehicles and often court mandated for repeat drink driving offences. They work by making the user take a breath test prior to enabling the vehicles function. Beam and Neuron can work with software providers to develop a system where this is enabled between certain times of the day/night to completely prevent drunk riding.
Through creative thinking, innovation and exploring ideas used elsewhere, I believe we can make micro-mobility work in Hobart to improve the amenity of the city, decrease congestion and travel times and improving parking for those who choose to drive.
I'd love to hear your ideas too so please get in touch!