Places such as Brisbane may allow electric scooters, but the vast majority of e-scooters are not allowed in Melbourne.
The Victorian government is soliciting input on the legalization of electric scooters, but so far, scooter riders are in a no-go zone in Melbourne.
True, if the electric scooter has a top speed of 10 kilometers or less and a power input of 200 watts or less, it is possible to ride an electric scooter on some footpaths, and on occasion, a few roads, but don’t expect to see electric scooter on the M1 Princes freeway, now or ever.
And as to normal city streets, the same will always be true.
The big problems
There are actually a few major problems with electric scooters right now in Melbourne.
The first that many, perhaps even the overwhelming percent of scooters do not meet the legal limits for use.
Take the case for example of the Razor E-prime Air Electric Scooter sold by popular Australian retailer David Jones.
The Razor, which retails for around $700 Australian sounds like a great scooter. The big problem? It goes up to 24 kilometers per hour, more than twice the legal limit in Melbourne and throughout Victoria.
Only if you are on private property could you legally drive this vehicle. Yet thousands of parents are ponying up the dough for this and similar electronic scooters for their kids, not realizing (we assume that that is mostly the case) or ignoring the fact that these types of electronic scooter are being sold in major department stores, and nobody says anything about them.
For some, the toll may come one day when a Melbourne police officer makes a traffic stop and their 12-year old comes home with a ticket for the parents to either appear in person or forward a fine of $826. Ouch.
A hazard to pedestrians
There is another problem with scooters on pedestrian footpaths and that is unlike other vehicles, e-scooters are virtually silent.
Accidents have occurred and continue to occur when innocent pedestrians are mowed down by an errant scooter. While the scooter may weigh only 10 kilograms, the rider adds another 90 kilograms or so, making it a force to be reckoned with.
In order to ride a scooter on a footpath, it should be mandatory that not only should the scooter have a bell mechanism attached to the wheels so that the scooter is not virtually silent, but riders approaching pedestrians behind should be required to sound a horn on the scooter at least 10 feet before reaching the pedestrian.
Look Ma, no helmet
Another unfortunate side effect is accidents from falling down off a scooter. Comparing bicyclists with e-scooter riders, it’s well known that bicyclists have the highest rates of concussions and brain injuries of all sports.
In fact, so effective has the helmet frenzy been on bicyclists that no parent in their right mind would let their kids ride a bicycle without a helmet.
Yet at the fast speeds of an electric scooter, with speeds up to 24 kilometers per hour for some reason, parents don’t think twice about letting their kids ride on an electric scooter without a helmet.
While it is encouraged, only 4 territories, Australian Capital Territory), South Australia, Tasmania and Queensland require the use of helmets when wearing a scooter.
One hopes if electric scooters become legal in Melbourne, that wearing a helmet will be required.
Riding on roadways
Riding on roadways should be a combination of the speed of the roadway as well as whether there is a bicycle lane.
Quite obviously, no one is suggesting that you will ever see electric scooters on the freeways of Melbourne, but unless a city street has a bicycle path, electric scooters should continue to be forbidden.
One of the arguments, of course for electric scooters is that with more commuters taking e-scooters, they will be less likely to drive cars.
We find this sort of a spurious argument as rea1ly can’t imagine more than one out of every 1,000 people actually commuting to work on an e-scooter. The infrastructure is just too fragile.
We imagine that Melbourne will allow more powerful electric scooters to be used, but we hope that there are some sensible rules involved such as defining exactly which roads are open to an electric scooter and requiring everyone to wear a helmet, this Melbourne based electric scooter company says.
We would also like to see a maximum speed limit of greater than the current 10 miles per kilometer but no more than 20. Faster than that just does not make sense.