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Zipping ahead: Council puts the pedal down on new e-mobility strategy

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The COVID-19 pandemic has done little to curb Brisbane’s e-mobility craze, with the use of e-scooters as popular as ever and the city council on track to introduced an e-bike hire scheme by mid-year.

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The rapid take-up of the city’s e-scooter share scheme since it was introduced in 2018 has emboldened the council to offer residents and visitors dockless e-bikes as part of a formal e-mobility strategy.

A draft e-mobility strategy has attracted more than 900 submissions and the council has released figures showing patronage of e-scooters has returned to pre-pandemic levels, with more than 500 trips being taken each day.

Issues raised in the submissions suggest that the adoption of a formal strategy later this year will see some major changes to the way Brisbane people move around the city.

Already, transport laws have been changed in preparation for the arrival of shared e-bikes, with the devices able to be taken both on the road and on dedicated bike lanes.

However, pedestrian advocates have told the council they remain concerned about the safety aspects of having potentially hundreds more electric-powered vehicles on the city’s footpaths and streets.

Pedestrian lobby group Queensland Walks said it welcomed the council’s development of an e-mobility strategy but insisted safety issues needed to be better addressed.

“Queensland Walks is concerned (that) the e-mobility strategy fails to acknowledge or address the issues in pedestrian safety and the repeated concerns by vulnerable walkers, and has the potential to discourage people from walking,” its submission said.

Blind Citizens Australia also raised concerns in its submission, saying vision impaired people fear the vehicles passing too closely to them.

“This fear arises from the inherent characteristics of the devices, from our experience that riders do not always act safely,” the group said.

The council has said that its Citylink cycleway trial of dedicated bike lanes through major streets in the CBD may allay some concerns and that safety will be paramount in the rollout of the strategy.

The council released its draft e-mobility strategy last November as it announced the scrapping of its troubled CityCycle venture in favour of putting up to 2000 e-bikes on the city’s streets in a privately-run short-term hire scheme.

Tenders are expected to be signed with a supplier by July.

The city is well ahead of some other Australian capitals in embracing e-scooters and e-bikes.

The NSW Government recently an e-scooter trial, with the state’s transport minister Andrew Constance reportedly saying he was “not in the mood” to see them on Sydney streets.

 

 

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