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E-scooter ‘litter’ call as council considers extending city trial

Adelaide City Council will consider further extending an e-scooter trial, while the Lord Mayor says e-scooters laying on footpaths are “litter” which should be sent to the dump.

Feb 21, 2024, updated Feb 21, 2024
Adelaide's Lord Mayor says e-scooters fallen or dumped on city footpaths are hazardous litter which should be sent to the dump. Photo: Thomas Kelsall/InDaily

Adelaide's Lord Mayor says e-scooters fallen or dumped on city footpaths are hazardous litter which should be sent to the dump. Photo: Thomas Kelsall/InDaily

The council’s Infrastructure and Public Works Committee last night recommended that the e-scooter trial be extended for another year. 

The council has run the e-scooter trial since February 2019, with trial time periods continuously extended while awaiting state government legislation on the mode of transport commonly ridden on roads and footpaths. The current trial is due to expire on April 30. 

A state government spokesperson told InDaily yesterday the government expected to introduce legislation in mid-2024 but “it’s a matter for the parliament how quickly it is passed”. 

The council is concerned that such laws may not come into effect until early 2025.

The committee last night debated whether it was worth another trial extension, with councillors voicing frustration about the wait for new laws to be introduced. 

Councillor Janet Giles said the need to keep rolling over trials during the legislative limbo prevented the council from developing clear policies about e-scooter use in the city.

“I’m really disappointed and frustrated that the state government has moved so slowly getting this legislation sorted,” Giles said. 

“As a council who’s been supportive of active transport and addressing climate change, we can’t be a city that excludes electric vehicles.”

E-scooters

Beam and Neuron e-scooters on King William St. Photo: Thomas Kelsall/InDaily

The council last authorised an e-scooter extension in May 2023, and it was specified then that the extension would be the last. 

Lord Mayor Jane Lomax-Smith told InDaily yesterday that “we’ve reached the end of our tether with these extensions and it needs to be resolved so we can say something final and decisive to the operators”.

Councillor Philip Martin said the council has been “dragged along” with the extended trials, and noted inadequate scooter parking and safety concerns. 

“On the one hand, there’s a recognition that e-scooters are an important part of the transport network,” he said. 

“But on the other hand… we’re put in the position of having to say ‘well let’s keep on hanging on for the state government and the consequence may well be yet another broken arm, broken leg or some other injury that’s unnecessary.”  

The council has previously raised concerns about e-scooter insurance. Both e-scooter operators, Beam and Neuron, now have insurance coverage that responds to incidents affecting innocent third parties, even in situations where the rider is riding illegally or against the terms and conditions.

An agenda note prepared for the committee meeting specified that “the liability risk of injuries to an innocent third party is transferred from the third party to the insurer and/or the rider”.

The insurance policies in place require the e-scooter rider to pay an excess, but no excess is required for third parties if a claim is lodged and accepted.

Councillor Martin did not support the recommendation that the trial be extended, as he said there was no guarantee legislation would come into force by the end of the year. 

“By agreeing to yet another extension we pave the way for yet another extension… I find myself asking will it be [20]25 or [20]26 and how long will it be until we have satisfactory regulations?”

Councillor Dr Mark Siebentritt said he supported extending the e-scooter trial but did not support reckless behaviour or poor parking behaviour. 

“I think that micro-mobility is part of the future, whether it be e-scooters or even the e-bikes around the city, we need to be able to get this extension, that is important,” he said. 

Councillor David Elliott also backed extending the trial. 

“This has been a longstanding saga but we do finally have action to legislate on this issue which indicates there is a degree of inevitability of this change,” he said. 

All councillors except Cr Martin and Lord Mayor Jane Lomax-Smith voted to recommend extending the trial. 

E-scooters were also on the agenda during the council’s earlier City Finance and Governance Committee meeting as an issue for by-law consideration. 

Council by-laws are reviewed once every seven years and will be reviewed again before January 1, 2025. 

Parked and fallen e-scooters on a city footpath. Photo: Thomas Kelsall/InDaily

Greater restrictions on e-scooter parking were discussed, with the Lord Mayor likening e-scooters left on footpaths to rubbish. 

It’s litter… they should go to the dump,” she said. 

“It’s littering the street, they shouldn’t be left all over the footpath, it’s an outrage. People fall over them, they’re a risk.” 

Councillor Elliott suggested that movable racks be implemented as a starting point to determine where parking bays could be useful. 

“Scooters aren’t sentient, they don’t put themselves there, someone does actually put them there,” he said. 

Next Tuesday the council will vote on whether the Lord Mayor should write to the state government requesting an e-scooter trial extension until April 30, 2025.

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