E-scooters for summer?

By Meg Hill

While the state government is yet to let e-scooters into Melbourne, Lime is gunning for a summer trial in either the City of Melbourne (CoM) or the City of Port Phillip. 

The company has conceded to City of Melbourne concerns about the Hoddle Grid to further negotiations in the city while the City of Port Phillip has volunteered to run a trial. 

Lime’s director of government affairs and strategy APAC Mitchell Price said the company would make the Hoddle Grid non-operational.

“Perhaps we make our operations zone outside the Hoddle Grid so that scooters wouldn’t be zipping around right in the middle of the epicentre where there are some problems with food delivery bikes, cars, trams, a whole range of different things,” Mr Price said.

“For the moment I think what we’d be willing to do is make some concessions and say how about we start with the outer City of Melbourne ring. We obviously want to be in the CBD but what we haven’t got is data that shows usage and people wanting to use the service.”

Lime has used technology to create out-of-bounds areas, where scooters can’t operate. The technology also makes speed limits tailored to specific areas unbreakable.

“In Brisbane what we’ve done is deployed technology that has slow speed zones. Scooters automatically slow from 25 kilometres an hour to 10 or even to walking pace when they enter certain areas.”

Mr Price said that once scooters were available in inner city suburbs like Richmond and Fitzroy, data would show that the scooters were being used to travel to the CBD and Lime would be able to “shrink that operating no-go zone to be smaller and smaller”.

“City of Melbourne has been pretty up front with the Hoddle Grid, and I understand their issues because they’ve got lots of different things, cars, bikes, motorbikes, food delivery bikes, mopeds and people,” he said.

At the same time, the City of Port Phillip are pushing the state government to regulate e-scooters so it can be the first to trial Lime.

Port Phillip Mayor Dick Gross announced the decision at a panel discussion about e-scooters on September 17 where Mitchell Price was also speaking on behalf of Lime.

But the offer is redundant unless the state government moves to regulate e-scooter use. 

“What we’ve learnt today is that Port Phillip are really keen to do a trial of e-scooters and they were the first council to pass a motion in support,” Mr Price said.

“I think Port Phillip is ideal. Not only is it a tourist hub in summer but is also provides an opportunity to run a proof-of-concept trial in Melbourne.”

“Now it’s up to the state to provide the regulatory framework and we ask the minister [for transport] to strongly consider this.”

CBD News understands the state government is participating in a national investigation by the National Transport Commission to investigate the safe use of innovative vehicles and motorised mobility devices.

A Department of Transport spokesperson said safety was the government’s top priority “and any trial would need to consider this”.

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