Great Things Planned for NSW’s First Share Scooter Trial

Lake Macquarie, NSW

Lake Macquarie has become the first council area in NSW to welcome shared e-scooters, with a 12-month trial along selected routes launched last Monday.

The trial will take a very cautious approach initially, with the scooters’ use limited to five ‘quarantined’ areas, but with a view to steady expansion in vehicle numbers and in the permitted usage areas during the 12 months, according to the head of Lake Macquarie’s economic development company, Dantia.

“We’re already having discussions with Newcastle about how we can ultimately get riders through the full trip.”

The company’s CEO, Joshua Sattler, said that potential expansion included strategic links with the neighbouring Newcastle and Central Coast local government areas (LGAs).

“The idea is this is a regional transport issue and connecting the dots across multiple LGAs moving forward,” Joshua said.

“We’re positioned between two strategically aggressive LGAs, with Newcastle on one side and Central Coast on the other. It will be interesting to see where it flows across those invisible boundaries.

“We’re already having discussions with Newcastle about how we can ultimately get riders through the full trip.”

He said Dantia is also liaising directly with Central Coast council and he’s hopeful the discussions with those two councils will start to bear fruit by early next year.

In the meantime, Joshua said he strongly supports the NSW Government’s cautious, “safety first” approach to the trial initially.

The NSW Minister for Active Transport, Rob Stokes, announced the trial last month, saying the State Government has worked closely with Dantia and e-scooter provider Beam to ensure the trial will benefit the Lake Macquarie community and put safety first.

“E-scooters offer an exciting new mode of mobility, but we’re making haste slowly to learn how we can safely integrate them onto our roads and shared paths,” Mr Stokes said.

“Trials like this one in Lake Macquarie are incredibly important in learning how we can achieve that. Riders will be permitted to travel along selected shared paths while wearing a helmet and keeping within the speed limits.

“E-scooters will not be permitted on the road or footpath in Lake Macquarie and, importantly, Beam e-scooters are fitted with technology that ‘geo-fences’ the device to only be able to operate within the trial routes.”

“I would love to see this push forward onto footpaths, where I think we will see some real economic boosts associated with this transport mode.”

Those trial routes will be limited to four shared paths within the five zones: the Fernleigh Track, the Croudace Bay foreshore, the Warners Bay foreshore and up to Glendale, and the Toronto foreshore to Fassifern train station.

While two of the zones overlap, the other three are completely separate.

Joshua said while the State Government had been open to consider the use of scooters on roads, Dantia had opted for the “softly, softly” approach to restrict the scooters to shared paths initially.

“It will be experiential to begin with and, as we can push the parameters within the trial, I would love to see this push forward onto footpaths, where I think we will see some real economic boosts associated with this transport mode,” he said.

“Some footpaths around Lake Macquarie are barely used by pedestrians but could be suitable connections for scooters, so we’ll see how that goes with Transport for NSW.

The scooters will also be limited to a maximum speed of 10kmh and to riders aged 16 and over.

Joshua said the cautious approach also included partnering with a scooter provider with experience in share services in centres throughout Australia and a high emphasis on safety.

E-Bike Services

Beam is also operating a e-bike share service launched in Lake Macquarie last June.

“We had some terrible weather in the weeks after the launch but the level of usage for the bikes has dramatically improved with the change in weather,” he said.

“There’s been about 100,000km travelled on the bikes since they were deployed but that’s really over the past three months because of the weather we had before then.

“We’ve got around 5,000 users, including super users riding them five or six times a week or more, so they’re already a trusted mode of transport.

“That really is our parameter of success for both trials, that they become trusted methods of transport, and I’m confident it will be a very successful scooter trial in Lake Macquarie.

“With 220,000 people and a pretty interesting younger demographic – and one that’s really interested in experiencing the outdoors and all its natural beauty – the experiential usage of these scooters will be enormous.

“E-bike and e-scooter services tend to work well together. From what I’ve seen in the Territory, people tend to take those longer journeys on e-bikes, the 12 to 20-minute trips, compared to scooter trips that are around five to eight minutes on average.

Familiar Territory for Joshua

Joshua was central to the roll-out of e-scooter share services in Darwin in January 2020, as a manager at the local council, and has played a role in their introduction to the ACT, Queensland and parts of SA.

“That experience was definitely part of my kit bag when I took the role down here with Dantia,” he said.

“So it was great timing with the Minister’s announcement about scooter trials in NSW that we looked at having a trial here.

“With the natural beauty of the area and this big bustling blue lake in the middle of our city, I could see it becoming a preferred mode of transport and an easy one to get across the line with the council.”

Joshua said he is also sharing his experiences with a number of other NSW councils considering hosting scooter share trials in their areas.

1 Comment

  1. John Groom on 10th December 2022 at 5:17 PM

    The main eScooter issue I encountered on 180km of riding around Canberra last month was 2 scooters left laying on the shared path. A hazard if for some reason vision is obscured for faster cyclists

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