The Tasmanian Government has identified amendments to transport regulations that would allow electric scooters to be introduced to Tasmania.
The proposed changes to the regulatory framework would allow both commercial 'hire and ride' operators and private e-scooter use at certain speeds on most local roads, footpaths, shared paths and bicycle paths.
To capitalise on the new regulations, the City of Hobart and City of Launceston are undertaking a trial of 'hire and ride' e-scooter technology. The trial would operate on an app-based, user-pays basis within defined geographical zones and rider safety measures in place.
The two Councils worked through an Expressions of Interest process which asked vendors to demonstrate how they will meet community expectations in terms of safety for riders and the general public, encouraging responsible riding, and preventing use in defined areas.
Two successful vendors, Beam and Neuron, were chosen to begin the trial before the end of the year. If you would like to download the e-scooter apps ahead of the trial, you can do so from the their websites.
What are e-scooters?
E-scooters, or electric scooters, are a lightweight electric powered vehicles that are used in many parts of the world as a 'last mile' commuting transport option, and as a tourism transport option. They fall into the category of 'Personal Electric Vehicles', or 'micromobility' devices.
Why introduce them to Tasmania?
The introduction of micromobility options aligns strategically with the Greater Launceston Transport Vision and Work Plan and the Draft Launceston Transport Strategy, and is identified in both the Sustainable Hobart and Connected Hobart action plans. E-scooters may provide residents and tourists with more convenient transport options and reduce traffic congestion.
Who will be able to ride e-scooters in Tasmania?
The Tasmanian Government intends to introduce a regulatory framework which would allow anyone 16 years of age or older to use an e-scooter as long as they wear a helmet and comply with all road rules, including speed limits.
Where can they be used?
E-scooters will be able to be used at defined speed limits on most local roads, footpaths, shared paths and bicycle paths. They will not be able to be used on main roads or highways. As part of the joint Expressions of Interest process, the City of Launceston and City of Hobart have asked 'hire and ride' vendors to demonstrate the 'geofencing' capabilities of their systems. Geofencing could be used to prevent the operation of e-scooters in public shopping malls, for example, or at public events, or near nightclubs and bars on certain nights of the week. Geofencing technology could also be used to limit the speed of e-scooters in specific locations.
How will responsible riding be encouraged?
The City of Launceston and City of Hobart have asked 'hire and ride' vendors to demonstrate how they will encourage responsible riding. This may include a training period for new e-scooter riders, which would limit the speed and power of e-scooters for a defined period of time, the completion of an online safety tutorial, technology which prevents e-scooter operation unless the rider is wearing a helmet, and remote detection of irresponsible riding.
How will responsible parking of e-scooters be encouraged?
The City of Launceston and City of Hobart have asked 'hire and ride' vendors to demonstrate how they will prevent unused e-scooters cluttering our streets and public spaces. This may include the establishment of dedicated parking spaces for e-scooters in the city, suburbs and at visitor hotspots, and financial incentives for people to park e-scooters responsibly. It may also include the use of technology to prevent e-scooters being parked near waterways or other sensitive areas. Incorrectly parked e-scooters, or e-scooters that have been knocked over can be detected by on-board sensors, and retrieved by the vendor's field support technicians.
How will e-scooters be maintained and monitored?
'Hire and ride' vendors have been asked to demonstrate their plans to collect, charge and monitor their e-scooter fleets. This may include regular cleaning and sanitising, regular collection and charging, and regular redistribution of e-scooters to high use areas. On-board technology assists vendors to ensure that e-scooters are safe and ready to ride at all times.
What are the next steps?
The State Government has indicated its intention to introduce a new regulatory framework for both commercial 'hire and ride' operators and private e-scooter users by the end of 2021. The City of Launceston and City of Hobart are working towards this timeframe, and have chosen two successful vendors Beam and Neuron to begin the trial before the end of the year.
A consultation program will take place approximately three months into the trial to gain feedback from users, businesses, and other members of the community.