3 May 2021

E-scooters the new terror for commuters

| Ian Bushnell
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E-scooters are becoming more popular for commuting, and some riders are a risk to themselves and others using the paths and roads. Photo: File.

I was driving to work the other morning when an e-scooter rider flew out of a side street in front of me and sped off down the path towards Woden.

Fortunately, I was slowing down as I approached the roundabout and he was travelling at a rate of knots to make the crossing in time.

But dressed in grey garb, wearing a dark helmet and riding a black scooter, it was the perfect combination for him to disappear into the tarmac if the sun was not shining.

This was a scooter owner, not one of the hire folk on an easily identifiable brightly coloured vehicle, and obviously experienced at his morning run to work.

It was one of those driver moments that shock you into high alert and leave you muttering obscenities about the lunacy of two-wheeled commuters who have nothing between them and the bitumen or bumper bar.

The first thing is that you don’t expect a scooter to fly across a road – they are not supposed to be there, and I doubt that under the road rules, having a peek each way on the fly before you get your morning adrenalin piercing the gap to get across to the other path is legal.

But that is moot if you end up under a wheel or crashing into a windscreen.

The top legal speed for scooters in the ACT is 25 km/h, but privately owned jobs would be capable of much more than that. The world’s 10 fastest scooters start at 70 km/h and top out at 121 km/h.

So we’re talking about the same speed as cars on a much smaller platform and even less visible than bicycles.

I can understand the growing popularity – it is a quick, cheap, no-frills commute, but unless riders, like cyclists, stick to the road rules, it is only a matter of time before we have our first scooter tragedy.

For example, I also recently saw double-dinkers cruising down a path in blatant contravention of the rules.

While e-scooters will add to the city’s driver terrors, they also will make paths even more of a sharing, and not necessarily caring, experience. The potential for a high-speed collision between a scooter and a Lycra-clad cyclist is now heightened. For those of us who like to take a walk, stay alert and be prepared to be alarmed.

But if I sound too much like a wowser, there are legal ramifications for scooter riders who like to skirt the rules and not just the odd fine.

If someone is injured, the burden of compensation will fall on the rider who, like my friend the other morning, decided the rules don’t count and he’d take his chances on the roads.

Police last year promised to crack down on risky scooter behaviour, but obviously, the message has not gotten through.

For government, the advent of the e-scooter only adds to the infrastructure needs of an increasingly congested paths network and a need to monitor the phenomenon and make more laws if need be, especially if the injury toll and bill starts to rise dramatically.

But common courtesy and common sense will go a long way to keeping our commutes uneventful. That means you, Scooter Fiend!

Original Article published by Ian Bushnell on The RiotACT.

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