We welcome the introduction of additional rental e-scooters in Brisbane—with some caution.

We’ve witnessed the explosive uptake of rental scooters, and private e-scooters on shared paths and the CityLink Cycleway. These people-sized mobility devices are much more compatible with city living than cars; the majority of which transport only a single occupant, yet require a massive amount of space to move and store. A rental e-scooter can serve multiple people for multiple trips around the city in a day, and uses a tiny fraction of the space of a car even when not in use.

With a maximum speed set below 30kph, e-scooters are quite compatible with bicycles (electric and otherwise). But at speeds above walking pace (approximately 6kph), these vehicles are not appropriate for use on busy footpaths; they should only be used with extreme care and where these is no suitable alternative. For this reason, we continue to call on Brisbane City Council to rapidly increase the spaces where e-scooters and bikes can be used clear from interactions with pedestrians. We’ve previously made representations to Council about where protected cycleways can be quickly roll out by repurposing kerb-side space that is currently monopolised by car parking, serving only a very small number of people.

Quick-response protected cycleways proposed by Space4cycling in May 2020

We also note and respect the concerns many people have when walking about the possibility of a collision with a “fast”-moving personal mobility device. We note that a person walking still remains at greater risk of being struck and seriously injured by a car—even when on the footpath—and that the rider of a personal mobility device has a much higher personal incentive not to crash and injure themselves compared to a driver. Nevertheless, the perception of “near misses” to pedestrians is very real and upsetting, especially for older people and those with a disability. We hope that pedestrian and disability advocates will join our calls for more separated space so that faster moving personal mobility devices are not forced to share limited space with people walking. That situation is not comfortable or desirable for anyone.

We also acknowledge the problems with parking of rental e-scooters, and don’t feel that these issues have yet been properly addressed by Council. We believe that more consideration should be given to repurposing existing car parking spaces to provide geo-coded parking bays for e-scooters and bicycles. It is possible to park a dozen or more micro-mobility devices in the space usually reserved for a single car.

Brisbane City Council are rightly proud of their record of innovating with the use of new electric personal mobility devices, but need to match that with faster and bolder moves to adapt our public streets so that space is safe, comfortable, and functional for everyone.