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Melbourne's new e-scooter rental plan is being put to the test

Lime and Neuron Mobility have stated that up to 1500 scooters would be accessible for rent and ride across Melbourne, Yarra, and Port Phillip municipal regions.

The green and orange scooters, which can be reserved through their respective applications, will be allowed to ride at a maximum speed of 20 kilometers per hour in bicycle lanes, shared pathways, and low-speed highways (up to a maximum 50kmh speed limit).

They will not be allowed on footpaths, though, and riders must wear a helmet.

After completing their journey, users can park their vehicle practically wherever as long as it is out of the way of people and away from specified “no go” locations.

These locations include the waterfront walks on Victoria Harbour, NewQuay, and along Harbour Esplanade, as well as the near neighborhood of Southern Cross Station, all of which are located inside Docklands.

Richard Hannah, Neuron Mobility’s head of Australia and New Zealand, said the company was “delighted” to be picked for the multi-municipality experiment, which will run for a year and then be extended if successful.

“E-scooters are really well suited to the city and they will be a great way for locals as well as tourists to travel in a safe, convenient and environmentally-friendly way,” he added.

E-scooter safety issues have surfaced in a number of places, both in Australia and throughout the world, and Mr Hannah said it was a top priority.

“Safety is our top priority; it dictates our e-scooter design and also the way we operate them. Our e-scooters are packed with a range of cutting-edge safety features, we have a full suite of insurance, including third party liability cover, and we know from experience in other cities that our riders really appreciate this.”

Since 2017, e-scooter sharing systems have been operating in a number of locations throughout the world, most notably in the United States and Europe.

Brisbane and Auckland, both in Australia, have tried out the micromobility option.

The trial’s announcement is probably long overdue for a mostly unregulated mode of transportation.

Prior to the start of the trial, most private e-scooters seen on the streets were prohibited because they were both excessively powerful (more than 200 watts) and traveled faster than 10 kmh (current Victorian law).

While Minister for Public Transport Ben Carroll claimed last year that inner-city councils were an ideal testing ground for new transportation options because they had a mix of low-speed roads, shared user paths, and bicycle lanes, the truth is that Melbourne has had a rocky relationship with micro-mobility hire schemes.

oBikes, a Singaporean company, was promptly kicked out of the city after its fleet of yellow bikes were found more often in trees and waterways than on pathways and roads during a disastrous time in 2018.

The state government’s “blue bikes” were also eliminated later in 2019.

Despite the fact that these more durable “docked” blue bikes did not have the same dumping concerns as oBikes, demand was modest. However, e-bikes (also offered by Lime) have lately become a viable choice in the surrounding municipalities of Yarra and Port Phillip.

During the year-long e-scooter experiment, the City of Melbourne claimed it will keep a careful eye on the results.

Within the CBD, geofencing technology will enforce “no go” and “go slow” zones for scooters.

Melbourne's new e-scooter rental plan is being put to the test

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