Third time’s a charm: Melbourne e-scooter trial extended again

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Melbourne’s e-scooter trial has been extended for a third time as the government delays a decision on whether to make the controversial vehicles permanent until next year.

A Victorian government spokesperson confirmed to this masthead the trial across the City of Melbourne, Yarra and Port Phillip council areas was given a further six-month extension this week before its second extension was due to expire.

The original trial was launched in February 2022 and was slated to only last a year.

In January, the trial with e-scooter hire companies Neuron and Lime was lengthened by two months. In March, a further six months were added while a ban was lifted on personal electric scooters, allowing them to join the trial.

When previously extending the trial, the state government has said it wanted to collect more data on e-scooter usage.

“We welcome the government’s decision to prioritise micromobility and to continue supporting sustainable transport options for the community,” Lime ANZ General Manager, Hugo Burt Morris, said on Thursday.

E-scooters will continue to fly around Melbourne.Credit: Scott McNaughton

Advocates say e-scooters can add to Melbourne’s transport network by conveniently filling gaps as a low-emissions alternative to cars on short journeys.

However, injuries to pedestrians from illegal footpath riding at speed have fuelled safety concerns, particularly for the elderly and disabled.

The 2500 hire scooters scattered across inner Melbourne can travel up to 20 km/h under the trial. All riders must wear a helmet and can travel in bike lanes and on shared paths, but cannot use the e-scooters on footpaths.

At least two people were killed in crashes involving private e-scooters in Victoria last year, and data from Monash University’s Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit shows more than 400 people were admitted to hospital in 2021/22.

Lime’s Australian boss told this masthead earlier this year that rider behaviour had improved since the start of the trial and the company was continuing to work towards stamping misuse out.

Burt Morris also said customers rode on the footpath illegally because Melbourne does not have enough bike lanes, and they did not feel safe being on the road.

He added the city needed dedicated parking spaces for hired and private scooters to stop them being left blocking footpaths – another criticism of their use across Melbourne.

With Cara Waters and Patrick Hatch

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