As one of the leading electric scooter developers in the country, Mearth electric scooter believes that innovative transportation not only relies on brands or manufacturers producing quality transport solutions but also on the support of the legislation. Mearth’s CEO and founder Ming Ye also maintain that even as the future of electric scooters and other personal mobility devices or PMDs is very promising, it is crucial that multiple transportation options should be provided to enable commuters to travel quickly, safely, and efficiently at a reasonable cost.
Mearth, Australia’s first electric scooter developer, has thus extended its support to the petition to legalize electric personal mobility devices (PMD) which includes electric scooters, electric skateboards, and electric unicycles. This is in support of the petition and movement started by Electric Riders Australia earlier this year. The Electric Riders Australia was established to represent the people who ride different PMDs for different purposes. Since the start of the campaign, the organization has reached out to Ministers and Members to discuss the PMD’s legalization, partnered with industry leaders, and educated the public on their rights and the benefits of PMD.
The petition addresses the President and Members of the Senate in the Australian Parliament and calls on the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, and Regional Development to support the amendment of the Australian Road Rules and legalize PMDs.
The petition aims to gather 6,500 signatures and only less than a thousand are currently needed to complete their goal. Signing the petition will let these members know that there is huge support for the legislation.
When General Manager Josh Sattler from the City of Darwin began their e-scooter trial last year, he said “Australia has a lot of beautiful green spaces but it’s so hard to get around because it’s quite hot. Motorized scooters are a great option for both locals and tourists, providing a quick, effortless, and inexpensive mode of transport to move around the city.”
In the latest news, Sydney councils that have refused to participate in an electric scooter trial have been accused of missing an opportunity to make the city more accessible as more details about what riders will and won’t be allowed to do are revealed.
NSW is the last state in Australia to roll out a shared e-scooter scheme with the first trial that has begun in July. However, residents and visitors to the CBD and inner-city suburbs such as Newtown will have to wait even longer since the City of Sydney and Inner West Council have not joined in the state government trial.
However, Parramatta, North Sydney, and Wollongong were among the councils that answered the call. Locations of the trials are expected to last 12 months.
To backtrack, privately-owned e-scooters are illegal in NSW and will not be part of the trial due to safety concerns. Unlike other cities, people who hire e-scooters in NSW will not be permitted on footpaths during the trial.
A Transport for NSW spokesperson said the government was on track on some of the trials in July this year. “Transport for NSW will continue to keep councils and the community updated once details are finalized,” the spokesperson said.
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said in a statement she was “excited” about the potential role of e-scooters, “particularly for ‘last kilometer’ trips, like getting from the train station to the office, or for tourists”.
But “Due to the high levels of path congestion in the city center, contested space, and disconnections in the bike network, it is the city’s view that the CBD isn’t the best place for such a trial,” the statement read.
“Rather than trialling e-scooters in the busy CBD, the city will monitor progress in trials elsewhere with a view to participating when the conditions are improved. The council also wanted to wait for the results of the trial before encouraging their use.
The Inner West Council also confirmed it would not participate in the trial, but did not comment further on its reasons.
Active Transport Minister Rob Stokes said in April that safety regulations would be a key focus. “The NSW government will be focused on ensuring that e-scooter regulations are sensible and appropriate for NSW, safety is paramount when it comes to e-scooter users and those around them,” he said.
Meanwhile, University of Queensland School of Business senior lecturer Richard Buning said the trial would be severely limited without the inner-city involvement. He added, “It’s really surprising that the pinnacle of tourism for the country is missing this opportunity.” Dr. Buning has researched how tourists use e-scooters and shared that visitors found them an easy and convenient way to explore a new city.
“Tourists don’t like public transport as they find it quite confusing, especially bus systems … it’s quite difficult, whereas the technology with e-scooters is really easy,” he said. “You just rock up, use an app and pay on your phone.” He said it was particularly useful in busy times.
He also shared, “In Brisbane, it’s absolutely the quickest way to get through the city during peak travel times. If you’re trying to go from one urban area to another, it’s just so much more efficient.”
Griffith University Cities Research Institute active transport researcher Madison Bland told ABC Radio Sydney recently that e-scooters had been a “huge success” since they became available in Brisbane in 2018. “For the most part, people have taken to them in a positive way,” he said.
While Bland acknowledged the safety concerns, particularly for people with disabilities, “the rate of accidents compared to their usage was ‘remarkably low,’ “ he concluded.
Now, why is there a clamor to legalize PMDs?
Legalizing PMDs in NSW and across Australia will have several benefits not only for the riders but for the rest of the country. Here’s why –
- Provide a quick and efficient mode of transport. Legalizing PMDs in particular electric scooters provides commuters with a quick, efficient, and low-cost mode of transportation. And with their slim design, e-scooters and other PMDs can bypass traffic easily, saving time and improving productivity.
- Encourage a more active way to commute. Although PMDs offer less physical activity compared to riding bicycles, they still give a light form of exercise. In fact, a study by the University of Brighton found that riding an e-scooter for 45 minutes can burn 350 calories per hour. In fact, some manufacturers also claim that it helps tone and strengthen the body and promotes stability and body coordination. Overall, PMDs are a fun and active way to travel outdoors and breathe fresh air.
- Reap the economic benefits that redound to productivity. In addition, there is a financial benefit to the individual, as e-scooters offer locals and tourists the chance to ride around the city and explore its shops. Some surveys revealed that about 70 percent of riders and tourists alike visited more local shops and explored more attractions of the city and suburbs using an e-scooter.
- As a socially distant transport option. According to TechCrunch, “The coronavirus pandemic is acting as a catalyst for urban transformation across Europe as city authorities grapple with how to manage urban mobility without risking their citizens’ health or inviting gridlock by letting cars flood in.” This is absolutely true not only true for Europe but also for Australia and in many countries around the globe.
While Australia has successfully flattened the curve in the past months, by legalizing the use of PMDs, commuters are provided with an alternative transport that allows them to follow social distancing during travel, and avoid unnecessary riding and coming into close contact with large groups of people.
In a 2020 INRIX Global Traffic Scorecard, Sydney lost 51 hours due to congestion. The figure was 51 percent lower compared to 2019 and this is due to the brunt of the pandemic. This is where PMDs can help save riders time and productivity. Using PMDs and providing sufficient infrastructure for these mobility solutions will help reduce commuters’ time significantly in the long run. In turn, this increases productivity for businesses and individuals.
In conclusion, the necessity for a more convenient and faster way of going about the city using an comfortable electric scooter is not to be viewed as a mere frivolous and leisurely pastime. Far from it, considering the undeniable benefits, not just to the economy and the convenience it gives to the traveler, but it also helps to lessen environmental pollution.
For more details on how to join the campaign to show your support for the movement, go to https://electricriders.org.au/petition, and, don’t forget to share Mearth’s Facebook post to encourage more PMD riders to sign the petition and support the cause.