The Brisbane City Council and the State government are being urged to enforce strict 10 km/h electric scooter speed limits as an urgent public safety measure.
Prominent Brisbane compensation lawyer Mark O’Connor says Lime scooter speeds in Brisbane are too high and are believed to be contributing to soaring injury rates among users.
He says Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey’s view that he would not rule out slashing the current 25km/h speed limit, does not go far enough.
While the State Government is still monitoring the use of e-scooters, Mark O’Connor says Queensland should go even further than New Zealand which has adopted scooter speed control measures of 15 km/h imposed in parts of Auckland.
Mark, an Accredited Specialist in compensation law and a Director with Bennett & Philp Lawyers, says as more scooter companies seek to cash in on the ride share devices, there’ll be increasing congestion on the footpaths, creating even more safety hazards.
Auckland is about to introduce a third scooter company to the city and the companies have agreed to special speed limits in central city and high pedestrian traffic parts of the city.
Brisbane was the first Australian city to trial electric Lime scooters. During this ongoing trial, e-scooters can travel at a maximum speed of 25km/h, and can only be used on footpaths. Additionally, riders must wear an approved helmet.
In Adelaide scooters have a 15km/h speed limit in place.
However Mark says the Pedestrian Council, which wants the scooters off Brisbane streets, has contacted him with deep concerns about the risks they pose to pedestrians. The Council is pushing for a 10 km/h speed limit and he says the firm is endorsing the Pedestrian Council’s call.
“The Pedestrian Council is especially concerned at the risk scooters pose to blind and visually impaired people. I’d add they are a menace to ambulant impaired people too who would find it hard to evade someone racing down the footpath on a scooter they can barely control,” he says.
The Pedestrian Council is pursuing its call to get scooters off the streets or have severe speed restrictions imposed, through a submission to the National Transport Commission (NTC) and plans to take the issue to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC).
Fellow compensation law specialist and Director Trent Johnson says the death of a scooter rider last week has raised serious questions about the operations of the e-scooters in Brisbane. This, coupled with soaring injuries among riders has confirmed the need for an urgent re-think on their safety and current use.
He says reports that 80 Lime scooter riders have been injured in the past two months, and a man’s death after a late-night fall from a Lime scooter, paint an alarming picture of Lime’s recently extended trial operations in Brisbane.
Trent believes there’s been a lack of transparency by both the Brisbane City Council and Lime scooters about how they seem to have been rushed into Brisbane with limited forward planning and public consultation.
Mark says the Pedestrian Council has told him it is very worried at the number of people riding without a helmet, even though this is a legal requirement for the ride’s use, and the number of people doubling others on the scooters.
“In a recent spot check the council’s chairman Harold Scruby reported around 60 per cent of riders observed at the Howard Smith Wharf area over a period had no helmets on and more than 10 per cent were doubling others. There were also sightings of children doubling others on the scooters even though children under 16 can only ride them with an adult accompanying them.
“The image of a child with no proper training trying to control a scooter at 25 km/h on crowded footpaths is frightening, even if they are with an adult. The injury risk to others is off the scale,” he says.
Trent questions how Lime scooters can remain available for hire without a helmet, or be returned to the streets for hire by Lime’s ‘juicers’ without helmets.
The Queensland Government has reported more than 300 people have been fined since December for e-scooter non-compliance, the majority of them for riding without a helmet.
Mark has endorsed a Pedestrian Council call for heavy penalties and proper insurance to ensure the costs associated with e-scooters and injuries caused by them are not paid or subsidised by the tax-payers.
Figures showed more than 120 people were taken to hospital with injuries related to scooter use in the first two months of their use in Brisbane.
Sadly the rules have gone out the window for so many scooter users and they are now a menace on the streets and a nightmare on wheels to other pedestrians.”
“If the Brisbane City Council won’t take them off the streets, then a drastic speed limit reduction should be imposed,” Mark says.
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