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Inner West council joins Sydney in opting-out of e-scooter trial

The Inner West has declined to participate in trialling e-scooters in the LGA. Photo: Wikimedia commons.

By AMBER GRIFFIN

The Inner West Council has joined the City of Sydney as another key inner-city local government area rejecting a state government proposed trial for e-scooters. The council says they made the decision not to participate due to “similar concerns raised by City of Sydney”.

“These were mainly around safety issues for pedestrians, in particular our narrow, very busy footpaths” the Inner West Council said.

When asked if council worried non-participation might have impact on other local government areas, the Inner West said “as [The City of Sydney] is not participating in the trial, Council does not expect that there would be difficulties for large numbers of commuters”.

In NSW, participating councils will be trialling e-scooter rentals, although the government has yet to announce which local government areas will be involved in the trial, however 37 councils across NSW have expressed interest.

For councils participating in the trial, the government has provided conditions for operation.

Privately-owned e-scooters will not be part of the e-scooter trial due to safety concerns, and instead share-scheme scooters will be solely available. People who hire the shared e-scooters will not be permitted to ride them on footpaths.

To acknowledge safety concerns, the hired e-scooters across NSW will have a restricted speed of 20 kilometers an hour, helmets will be compulsory, riders will have to be a minimum 16 years of age and night-time riding will be prohibited.

e-scooters

Shared-scheme scooters would be allowed under government trial conditions. Photo: commons.wikimedia.org.

Sydney councilors speak up in support of trial

City of Sydney Councillor Shauna Jarrett, who tabled the idea for Sydney council to opt-in to the trial, said that the council has “lost the opportunity to have a voice in the implementation of e-scooters,” l deciding not to go ahead .

Cr Jarrett said that Sydney council “has shown in their stance that ‘the City of Sydney is a nation-wide leader in addressing climate change options’ is just all talk and no real action”.

“Those Councilors who opposed the trial are following a narrative that suits their ideology: if the plan is not ours, we won’t support it.”

The NSW Government has not provided any funding to assist Councils in development and management of trials.

“[NSW government] have enabled the trial to be undertaken from a regulation point of view, – the Council has the expertise in risk management, public communications, community consultation and program implementation – all parties could co-operate to enable the trial.”

Cr Jarrett has started a request calling on the Lord Mayor Clover Moore and the City of Sydney to “write to the NSW Government endorsing and participating in the NSW Shared E-Scooter Trial”.

“The trial will re-enforce the findings in other cities such as Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Hobart, Launceston – reduction in the number of short car trips, particularly from transport hubs to people’s workplaces, shopping trips, visiting friends – Melbourne reduced its number of small car trips by 500,000.”

City of Sydney Greens Councilor Sylvie Ellsmore said to CityHub that the Greens support the legalization of e-scooters, however the trial would not legalize riding.

“Fines for illegally riding an e-scooter can be thousands of dollars” Cr Ellsmore said.

“Despite these E-scooters are currently sold at popular retailers with insufficient warning that they are illegal to ride in public. The government’s trial would not have legalized the use of private scooters and addressed this problem.”

Sydneysiders admit they use e-scooters regardless

E-scooter owner and active member of the e-scootersnsw.org Facebook group Stefan Caliaro shared with CityHub his perspective on the benefits of e-scooters.

Caliaro said that e-scooters are a green, safe and ultra affordable mode of local transport.

Caliaro said he believes people can have increased mental and physical health due to e-scooters, giving them the opportunity to go out more frequently, and reach new businesses they otherwise would have had to drive or catch public transport to access.

“With an e-scooter it empowers individuals to think bigger with their days and that’s empowerment which leads to more positive action in peoples’ lives” Caliaro said.

As the popularity of E-scooters rises and the demand for alternative modes of transport increases, Sydneysiders urge for e-scooters to be legalized – many admitting they ride e-scooters in the city regardless of privately owned e-scooters being illegal in NSW.

“I ride my electric scooter through the city on the bike paths which are practically empty, it is the best thing ever” one e-scooter enthusiast said.

A CBD resident who requested anonymity spoke out in the belief that the councils’ choice to reject the trial was “motivated by money and fine revenue”.

“They can clearly see the number of e-scooter users in the city that would benefit from legalization – I bet they’re loving the e-scooter fines coming in” the resident told CityHub.

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