E-scooters may soon be available on the streets of New South Wales after the State Government announced a trial of the devices will be brought forward.
Transport Minister Rob Stokes wants a three-month trial to launch in the state in July.
E-scooters are currently banned in NSW but are permitted in Victoria, ACT, the Northern Territory and Tasmania.
“E-scooters are an affordable, convenient and sustainable method of moving about and it’s important we harness that and recognise their increasing popularity around the world in a safe way,” Mr Stokes said.
“NSW has been criticised for being a bit of the laggard in taking on this technology but these are the benefits that we get to see the mistakes and successes other jurisdictions have faced,” Mr Stokes said.
Local councils are able to submit an expression of interest to trial the devices.
Shared public e-scooters will be available in the trial as the government is hesitant to roll out private usage due to safety regulation concerns.
“We will be starting with shared schemes, so that’s schemes operated by private providers,” Stokes said.
“It means we can learn the lessons in a regulated environment before extending these mobility concessions to private users as well.
“We have much control about the design standards as opposed to private use which will require more considered regulation.”
One of the key concerns around e-scooters is safety, as other states have seen a rise in misuse and injuries.
Mr Stokes has assured the government will focus on safety regulations.
“The NSW Government will be focused on ensuring that e-scooter regulations are sensible and appropriate for NSW, safety is paramount when it comes to e-scooter users and those around them,” he said.
Safety regulations may include geofencing technology to control speeds and monitor where the devices are parked to “minimise visual clutter”.
Other safety concerns include lighting and helmets.
Mr Stokes added the state will look at extending the laws around drink driving to apply to e-scooter usage as well.
NRMA spokesperson Peter Khoury said the trial needs to make sure the electric mobility devices don’t “undermine the safety of other road users like pedestrians and cyclists”.
“The trial needs to look at what level to set speeds and how do we ensure they interact in a safe way with the existing network,” he said.