Public green light for e-scooters on Adelaide streets

E-scooters, including privately owned ones, look set to become a permanent fixture on Adelaide’s streets after an “overwhelming majority” of respondents to a government survey supported their use on public roads and paths.

Dec 18, 2023, updated Dec 18, 2023
Photo: City of Charles Sturt

Photo: City of Charles Sturt

The state government is set to introduce legislation in the first half of next year to legalise the use of private e-scooters on the state’s roads and footpaths.

Currently, only e-scooter companies – the purple Beam fleet and the orange Neurons – are legally allowed to operate on footpaths in council areas which have a government-approved trial.

Privately owned e-scooters are banned – but still commonly used – on public roads and footpaths.

Councils have been seeking greater clarity on the legal framework surrounding personal mobility devices (PMDs), with Adelaide City Council earlier this year threatening to end its ongoing trial of hire e-scooters in May 2024 unless the government moved on legislation.

The Department of Infrastructure and Transport today released a one-page summary of its six-week consultation on e-scooters and PMDs. The consultation concluded on May 21.

Of the 1822 respondents to the YourSay survey, 87 per cent supported the ongoing use of e-scooters on public roads and footpaths.

There was also 76 per cent support for treating personal mobility devices (PMDs) like bikes whereby they do not require registration, licensing or compulsory third-party insurance.

Respondents also supported speed limits of 10 to 15km/h for using an e-scooter on a footpath, while speed limits up to 25km/h were supported for bike lanes or roads with a 50km/h car speed limit.

Transport Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the state government was committed to “sustainable and future-proof law reform.”

“The results of this engagement are unequivocal – the overwhelming majority of respondents support the ongoing use of e-scooters on footpaths, bike lanes, back streets and in other public areas, with 45 per cent of participants saying they would go out and buy a device immediately if they were permitted to be used in public,” he said in a statement this morning.

“About half of the survey participants indicated that they already use the fleet e-scooters that are currently permitted under trial, on average travelling between one and three kilometres per trip.

“It’s clear there is an appetite for sustainable modes of transport including first and last mile options, and this understanding will now inform a future framework currently under consideration for personal mobility devices, which will help ensure their future use is safe for all road users.”

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The City of Unley, which is one of the council areas operating an e-scooter trial, wrote to the government last month seeking an urgent update on the progress of new e-scooter legalisation.

The letter, addressed to Road Safety Minister Joe Szakacs, noted that the council had to decide on extending its existing trial in January next year.

“Without a commitment from State Government to improve safety and access of e-scooter for all street users, and accordingly refine current trial e-scooter legislation to help actively address current issues, there is little that we can do (at this time) to address key community concerns,” Unley Mayor Michael Hewitson wrote on November 28.

“It is now six months since the consultation was undertaken. We urgently request that the State Government provide advice on the state-wide consultation outcomes, next steps, and timeframes to help Elected Members make an informed decision on January 29 2023 regarding share e-scooters in the CoU (City of Unley).”

Premier Peter Malinauskas, asked today what the government’s rules and regulations for e-scooters would be, said there was still legislative work to be done.

“We’re very grateful for the community response. We just want to make sure that we get it right,” he said.

“I don’t think as a government we want stop e-scooters being used, we just want to make sure they’re being used in an appropriate way that allowed people to use them but keeps the rest of the community safe.”

The Opposition and the Greens welcomed the government’s announcement today, indicating that e-scooter legislation unlikely to face any significant hurdles in the Upper House.

Greens MLC Robert Simms noted that legalising private e-scooters was one of the recommendations of a parliamentary inquiry he chaired earlier this year into public and active transport.

“It’s good to see the Government take up this recommendation to encourage this clean, green transport alternative,” Simms said.

Opposition transport spokesperson Vincent Tarzia said the government had earlier this year knocked back a Bill from the Liberal Party to legalise private e-scooters.

“We’re glad Peter Malinauskas has backflipped on his strong stance against e-scooters and we hope to see legislation that provides clarity for users, councils, and businesses,” Tarzia said.

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