QUESTION: E-Scooters

In Question Time, Mark asked the Minister for Trade and Investment, representing the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government about the use of privately owned e-scooters.

The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: The Government has authorised the use of commercial electric scooters as part of ongoing trials in Adelaide, now extended to include North Adelaide and the Coast Park Trail. Of course, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the service has been suspended, effective Sunday 29 March; however, it will be resumed after the current crisis has passed.

As part of the commercial provision of e-scooters, the Government has required that they be speed limited, have basic safety equipment, be subject to specified rider behaviour and only be used in designated areas. However, if a private citizen buys an identical e-scooter with identical limitations, he or she can be prosecuted for riding it. I note that e-scooters are widely available for sale in South Australia, both through retail outlets and online; however, they can't be used in public. According to the Government website:

If you are caught riding an e-scooter not approved for this trial you may be fined for driving an unregistered and uninsured motor vehicle [the fine being] $1,232.

My questions to the Minister are:

Firstly, when the e-scooter trial resumes after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed, will the Government allow the use of private e-scooters on the same terms and conditions as commercial e-scooters; and

Secondly, what are the Government's future plans for the use of private, small-wheeled electric vehicles, given that these vehicles are increasing in popularity and availability?

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY (Minister for Trade and Investment): I thank the honourable member for his question. I suspect I am the only Minister in this chamber who has actually ridden an e-scooter—I suspect I am, but maybe the Hon. Stephen Wade has—so I am probably the right person to take this question. All the details that the honourable member refers to are very important questions, and I will refer them to the hardworking Minister for Transport, the Hon. Stephan Knoll, and bring back an answer.

Response received on June 30, 2020: 

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY (Minister for Trade and Investment): The Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government has provided the following advice:

1. E-scooters are an emerging technology and the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (the department) is working with local councils to conduct trials that support an evidence-based evaluation of these devices.

Two e-scooter trials have been approved to operate in South Australia; one administered by the City of Adelaide in the CBD and into North Adelaide and one by an alliance of councils along the Coastal Park Path. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the respective councils suspended both of these trials on 29 March 2020. Councils will work with the relevant health authorities and providers to reactivate trials where possible as restrictions are relaxed.

The current conditions for commercial e-scooters include:

(a) That the day-to-day operation of the trials and interaction with the e-scooter fleet operators is managed by the relevant local council for the area in which the trial operates.

(b) Fleet operators have been approved for operation under a business permit issued by the relevant local council(s). These council permits include specific deliverables regarding the operation of the trial(s).

(c) That the devices cannot go above a maximum speed of 15 kilometres per hour.

(d) That the devices do not exceed a maximum unladen mass of 25 kilograms.

(e) That the device not be operated by a person under 18 years of age.

(f) That the fleet operator holds a policy of public liability insurance of at least $20 million.

2. South Australia is already a market leader in the use of these devices by being one of a handful of Australian jurisdictions to allow e-scooter trials.

The use of personal mobility devices (PMDs) on the road network raises a number of complex issues including where these devices should be used, device specifications, education and enforcement, speed limits and the operation of the Australian road rules, insurance requirements and connectivity with other transport solutions.

The National Transport Commission (NTC) is leading a national review of the Australian road rules to identify regulatory barriers preventing the safe and legal use of PMDs. PMDs include small electric devices such as e-scooters, powered skateboards and the like. The objective of the review is to provide a nationally consistent approach to regulating PMDs that enables safe mobility and independence for all road users.

DPTI is working with other jurisdictions and the NTC on this review, with a consultation regulatory impact statement being released in October 2019.

The NTC's review, together with the trials that have been initiated in South Australia will be used to inform future plans for the use of PMDs, including for private use.