With the news of an e-scooter trial starting in Wollongong, people have been asking a lot of questions.
Here are some answers from e-scooter supplier Neuron and Wollongong City Council to some of the more common queries.
It is a state government initiative that recognises the increasing popularity of e-scooters, which are still currently illegal to ride on public roads. The trial is to see whether e-scooters are a safe and viable form of transport and whether they can be integrated safely.
Run with the help of Wollongong City Council, it starts on September 29 and expected to run for 12 months. The council will monitor the trial and make any fine-tuning if required.
No, the trial is limited to those e-scooters provided by trial partner Neuron - in part because they have safety functions and speed limiters.
There is a prepared operational area for the trial which, broadly speaking extends from Sandon Point along the shared path to Flagstaff Point and over to the University of Wollongong. The e-scooters are geofenced, so they will only work within that area - try and go beyond that and it will lose power.
For example Crown Street Mall and the Wollongong Botanic Gardens will be a no-ride-zone, when e-scooters enter the no-ride zone riders will be told to turn back before the e-scooter powers down.
Neuron's head of market development for Australia Tim Morris said there was the potential to widen the operational area as the trial progresses.
Neuron will be rolling out 300 e-scooters from the first day of the trial. Mr Morris said they have a permit with the council that allows more but they will gauge the popularity and bring in extra e-scooters if needed. Usage is expected to pick up heading into the summer months.
In large part, they will be located in "parking stations" in popular areas, including at various places along the coast down to North Wollongong Beach, the CBD and the University of Wollongong. Mr Morris said Neuron was still working with UOW to confirm if they'll permit e-scooters to be ridden on the campus itself.
Riders will be encouraged to leave the scooter in a designated parking area by being given a discount if they do so.
How do I pay for a Scooter?
You will need to download the Neuron app on your phone. This will allow you to locate the nearest scooter, and to pay for your ride. You can find the app in the app store or in Google Play or by going to the Neuron website.
Riders need to be over 16 to ride, but a driver's licence is not required. They will have to download the Neuron app and fill in their details - which is best done ahead of time. Then, when they find an e-scooter, they can use the app to scan a QR code on the scooter to unlock it. At the end of the trip they will be asked to send a photo of the parked scooter in order to officially end the ride on the app.
There are two payment options. Casual riders can go for the pay-per-minute option, which is $1 to unlock the scooter and then 51 cents per minute. Multi-day passes are also available that allow you to ride for 90 minutes a day - whether that be in one hit or spread out over the day. The pass options are one-day ($15), three-day ($25), weekly ($33) and monthly ($99).
Yes, and the helmet must be worn while riding. Once the rider unlocks the e-scooter, the helmet will be released and can be worn. As part of the routine of ending a trip, the rider has to lock the helmet back onto the scooter. Failing to do that means the ride cannot be ended, and a $15 fine will also be incurred.
No parking zones will be in place in areas where it is not suitable for e-scooters to be parked and these will be clearly marked in the Neuron app.
The council and Neuron will be working together to identify a few key designated parking areas and/or no parking areas within the trial area to reduce the risks in locations with a lot of pedestrians.
The e-scooter will detect it is in a no parking zone and will not allow the rider to end the trip, which means they will keep being charged for the use until they move it out of that zone.
The scooters have automatic speed limiters that will detect where a rider is and be switched on if need be. The limits are 10km/h on shared pathways, such as the Blue Mile, and 20km/h on bike paths or on a road where the posted speed limit is up to 50km/h. Those limitations cannot be over-ridden.
There are several layers of insurance, Mr Morris said - public liability, third party and specific insurance for the rider themselves. In the event that an incident occurred when a rider broke the rules - such as riding with a blood-alcohol limit of 0.05 - insurance doesn't cover them but third parties are covered regardless of what the rider is doing.
Mr Morris said Neuron had a strict agreement with the council that they needed to respond quickly - often within the hour - should any e-scooter need to be relocated. There will be Neuron staff on the ground in Wollongong to take care of that.
They will also need to physically visit each e-scooter at least once a day to replace flat batteries. Each e-scooter has a tracker so staff can see where it is at any time and they also have technology that can tell when an e-scooter is lying on its side.
Mr Morris also said they intended to identify areas of high risk of vandalism or dumping and set up no parking zones at those locations. That will mean a rider leaving the e-scooter there will not be able to end the trip on the app and will continue to be charged for the ride.
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