App-based e-scooter hire-and-ride services are underway in the Australian city of Hobart as part of a year-long trial to assess their suitability as a mode of transport.
Two operators – Beam and Neuron Mobility – were jointly selected to provide the hire services earlier this year, following an expressions of interest process conducted in partnership with the City of Launceston.
The micromobility providers report they were chosen based on their extensive experience in both Australian and international markets and commitment to safety, amenity, job creation and accessibility.
City leaders anticipate the electric scooters and other micromobility devices would increase the diversity of transport options in the Tasmanian capital, creating more choice for residents, commuters, and visitors to the city.
“We see micromobility modes playing a role in reducing traffic congestion in the city and encouraging more sustainable transport solutions,” said Bill Harvey, chair of City of Hobart’s City Infrastructure Committee.
“We now have ferries running across the river and for people commuting into the city, the opportunity to pick up an e-scooter when they arrive could be an ideal last mile option.”
Councillor Harvey added: “They can also be used for quick trips around the city to cut out use of cars for short trips, or for tourists to visit different parts of the city.”
Safety features offered by the vendors include a low-speed beginner mode, pedestrian detection sensors, and dangerous rider behaviour detection. In addition, users are not able to complete their ride session if the scooter is left in a designated no-parking zone, and a team of “rapid response rangers” attend to fallen or incorrectly parked scooters, customer complaints, and any incidents involving a scooter.
“We now have ferries running across the river and for people commuting into the city, the opportunity to pick up an e-scooter when they arrive could be an ideal last mile option”
Under updated state legislation around use of micromobility devices, e-scooters can be used at defined speed limits on footpaths, shared paths and bicycle paths, unless they are signposted to specify that skateboards or bicycles are not permitted. They are also permitted on some roads with a speed limit of 50km/h or lower.
Geofencing will be used to make sure commercial e-scooters remain in permitted areas and are ridden within the prescribed speed limit.
Use of e-scooters will be closely monitored by the City of Hobart, which said it has the authority to amend the permitted locations and speed limits in response to rider behaviour, incidents and feedback.
A formal community consultation phase will occur in 2022 to gain feedback from users, businesses, and other members of the community to help determine the success of the trial.