Over the past few years, the popularity of e-bikes and e-scooters has continued to soar in Queensland as adults and children choose electric over pedal power.
- In Queensland, e-scooters are only allowed on footpaths where they can travel up to 25kph
- Queensland is the only state or territory where a rider can travel at speeds above 10kph on a footpath
- Federal and state regulations have struggled to keep up with the new technology
Federal and state regulations have struggled to keep up with the new technology, meaning riders may inadvertently be breaking the law.
Some of the confusion around e-scooters and e-bikes is regarding the areas where they can and cannot be ridden.
In Queensland, e-scooters are only allowed on footpaths where they can travel up to 25 kilometres per hour, while e-bikes are allowed on footpaths and roads.
Traditional push bikes are only allowed on the road and designated bike lanes.
Queensland is the only state or territory where a rider can travel at speeds above 10kph on a footpath.
E-scooter uptake surges
Anthony Van Duyn is the owner of Cairns Electric Bikes and said the government had failed to keep up with the technology.
“In 2012, there were 27 million e-bikes sold in China where they were aimed at people that couldn’t afford a car,” he said.
“In China and Europe, e-bikes were mainly ridden by commuters who didn’t want to arrive at work in a sweat.
Mr Van Duyn said e-scooters are now his biggest seller.
“We started as an e-bike dealer. We were never very big on pushbike sales,” he said.
“E-bike sales have increased about 20 per cent per year.
Councils vary in uptake
In September 2020, Neuron e-scooters launched in Townsville, allowing people to grab a scooter from the side of the road and swipe on and swipe off as they use them.
The shared scooters are equipped with geofencing technology which controls where e-scooters are ridden, parked, and how fast the scooters can travel in certain areas.
Rockhampton Regional Council put out expressions of interest last month for an operator for a hire fleet of e-scooters in the city.
Further taking on the challenge, the Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council is aiming to become the first Indigenous local council to roll out a network of electronic transport including electric buses, rideshare vehicles, e-bikes, and scooters.
The uptake compares favourably to the Cairns Regional Council, which in 2019 voted against a push for a trial of shared electric scooters due to inadequate footpaths and concerns over crashes.
Mr Van Duyn said it was inconsistent and confusing, and e-scooter riders say they do not understand why they cannot ride on the road where push bikes and e-bikes can.
“Why don’t we just allow them to have access to the bike lane on the side of the road?
“E-scooters can go faster than a push bike, but they must stay on the footpath.”