12 September 2023

12-month electric scooter trial rolling out in limited Wollongong areas

| Jen White
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Couple riding e-scooters at North Beach.

Residents and tourists will soon be able to hire an e-scooter to get around parts of Wollongong city. Photo: Neuron Mobility.

300 electric scooters will be rolled out in Wollongong at the end of September as part of a 12-month trial.

The distinctive orange e-scooters will be speed-limited and confined to certain roads and shared paths around the city and north to Sandon Point.

Under the trial, the Neuron-branded e-scooters can be hired by riders aged 16 years and over. The permitted zones are geofenced, meaning the e-scooters will not work outside those areas.

They will be limited to a maximum speed of 10 km/h on shared pathways and 20 km/h on bike paths, or roads with speed limits up to 50 km/h. They cannot be ridden on footpaths and only the Neuron-branded e-scooters are permitted to be used.

Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said the scooters were an easy mode of transport that reduced congestion and emissions on the city’s roads. He said the trial would have clear limits and requirements and community feedback would be key to the future of e-scooters in the city.

“The introduction of e-scooters will mean that other road and shared pathway users will need to be mindful there is something new to be on the lookout for. It will mean people will need to change their behaviours or be aware that e-scooters might be on the road,’’ Cr Bradbery said.

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“We have worked really hard with Transport for NSW to deliver a trial zone that will allow people to really explore and use the Neuron e-scooters as an alternative transport mode and for them to be able to go about their daily business with ease.”

Electric scooters were introduced to Canberra in 2020 and recent data revealed the 1900-strong fleet had logged a total of 2.7 million journeys and covered 5.3 million kilometres since then. The daily average number of trips was 3300, at an average speed of 9.6 km/h.

However, the Canberra experience hasn’t been trouble-free. E-scooters have been dumped in lakes and rivers and the ACT Government was forced to ramp up the rules in late 2021 to include fines of $3200 for riding an e-scooter while drunk. This followed a six-month review that revealed there was still some confusion around how e-scooters related to existing road rules.

Cr Bradbery said Transport for NSW would lead an education campaign when the scooters arrived to ensure riders were across the road rules.

“E-scooter riders must be over 16, must wear a helmet, remain below the speed limit and not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Drivers must leave a distance of one metre when passing someone riding an e-scooter,’’ he said.

The scooters feature technology to control where they’re ridden and how fast they can travel in certain areas. When an e-scooter reaches the boundaries of the riding area, or a no-riding zone, it will lose power.

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Neuron Mobility General Manager Australia and New Zealand Jayden Bryant said e-scooters were well suited to Wollongong.

“Elsewhere in Australia, e-scooters are significantly reducing congestion and emissions while also helping to boost the local economy,” he said.

“Safety is our top priority, it dictates our e-scooter design and also the way we operate them. Our e-scooters are packed with a range of cutting-edge safety features and we know from experience in other cities that riders really appreciate this.”

The e-scooters also feature an app-controlled helmet lock; a Triple Zero emergency button, which can tell if someone has fallen and help them call the emergency services; and voice guidance to educate and warn riders of how to ride safely.

The e-scooter trial will start on 29 September. For more information, visit Wollongong Council’s e-scooter page.

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