Depending on who you ask, the sight of e-scooters zipping up and down the streets of Melbourne’s CBD is a cause for celebration or dismay.
Loved by some as a fun way to get about a modern, growing city — seen by others as too fast and dangerous.
But after an at-times controversial trial, Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp believes they’re here to stay.
“I absolutely love it,” she said.
“I think these past 12 months have shown how embedded the usage of e-scooters are in Melbourne.”
Last year, the inner-city councils for Melbourne, Yarra and Port Phillip and the regional city of Ballarat started an e-scooter trial with the Victorian government that was originally slated to end in February.
Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp says e-scooters are helping drive economic activity in the CBD.(ABC News: Iskhandar Razak)
It’s now been extended until the end of March, so the Department of Transport and other agencies can collate and finalize data.
But the figures so far show it’s been popular, with the RACV counting 2.8 million e-scooter rides over that period.
Over a similar period of time, Victoria Police has handed out 865 e-scooter fines, mostly for failing to wear a helmet, riding on the footpath and carrying more than one person.
Police have also responded to 33 e-scooter crashes, and impounded 15 privately owned e-scooters.
Fines for dangerous e-scooter behavior
Type of fine
Failing to wear a helmet
Riding on footpath
Carrying more than one person
Many riders swap car commute for e-scooter, company says
The companies behind the trial, Lime and Neuron, believe the trial results show e-scooters offer a net benefit to the community.
Neuron’s regional manager Yusuf Abdulahi said his company had recorded 1.7 million riders who had ridden some 3 million kilometers.
Neuron regional manager Yusuf Abdulahi says Melbourne has been one of the company’s most successful operations.(ABC News: Iskhandar Razak)
“Those figures put Melbourne as the highest in our e-scooter demand cities globally,” he said.
“Now that indicates that our riders are ditching their cars for those short trips and opting for an e-scooter.”
He said Neuron’s data suggested around 40 per cent of their riders were commuters, while the rest were exploring the city they were in.
“Further to this, 65 percent of trips result in a purchase at a local business,” he said.
In Ballarat, Mr Abdulahi said Neuron’s data revealed riders averaged 2.3km, slightly higher than Melbourne’s 2km average.
More than 60 per cent of those riders were using an e-scooter to replace a car, higher than around 45 per cent in Melbourne.
More bike lanes needed to improve safety for all road users, RACV says
Cr Capp said safety concerns were valid, but built-in speed restrictions of 20 kilometers per hour and geo-fencing stopping e-scooters from entering certain zones had worked.
The results of a trial across Ballarat and Melbourne’s inner bayside and CBD council areas are being evaluated.(ABC News: Iskhandar Razak)
“It is supporting a lot of economic activity,” she said.
“People coming in for shows, hospitality and retail. It’s added to our offering for tourists.”
RACV’s mobility general manager Julia Hunter said the trial data would shape policy going forward but based on what it had seen, it supported the continued roll-out of e-scooters in Victoria.
The RACV’s Julia Hunter says more bike infrastructure is needed to make safer roads for everyone.(ABC News: Iskhandar Razak)
But she said structural changes to the city and roads — especially more bike lanes — were vital to keeping pedestrians, drivers and riders safe.
“That in turn will also have benefits for e-scooter users who use that cycling infrastructure,” she said.