A fledging lobby group focused on the legalisation and promotion of electric skateboards and other small e-mobility devices is calling for a united front by industry to help take control of public dialogue and future policy about the sector.
Electric Riders Australia, formed early last year, is participating in next week’s Micromobility Conference & Expo to raise awareness of the group and establish constructive relationships with other members of the industry.
“Spend five minutes in the city in Sydney and you’ll see 15 people on illegal devices.”
ERA’s Chief Operations Officer, Tom O’Neill, said with sales of personal mobility devices booming in Australia, there is an urgent need for a coordinated and unified campaign by the industry to steer public discussion about the sector and push for appropriate regulation.
Tom said the association’s top priority has been pushing for the legalisation of devices such as privately owned e-scooters, electric skateboards, onewheels and e-unicycles.
“That’s becoming increasingly important when you see the number of private owners is skyrocketing. Spend five minutes in the city in Sydney and you’ll see 15 people on illegal devices,” he said.
“The industry needs to have a coherent and structured way of advocating for appropriate regulation in this space.
“We’re really looking to get more organisations and businesses on board, to grow our industry partner base so we can tap into the resources those partners can offer.
“We’ve been focused on doing our best to convince the States and Territories to follow through with what has already been amended at the Australian road rules level.”
In one of the ERA’s first actions, it collated and presented a petition of around 8,000 signatures calling on the National Transport Commission to adjust the national road rules to incorporate privately owned personal mobility devices (PMDs).
“At the national level, there is now a legalisation framework for personal mobility devices,” Tom said.
“We don’t agree with all that framework but the fact is it’s been written into modern law, and it’s not difficult for State and Territories to implement what has already been decided as the first step forwards legalisation.
“Once we get that unified voice and the appropriate legislative framework, that will remove risk for PMD businesses worried about bans and it will encourage more people to purchase these devices once they’re legal.”
He said other bike and micromobility advocacy groups in Australia were not giving significant attention to lobbying for smaller personal mobility devices. That included e-scooters, with discussion and investment of resources heavily weighted towards progressing the share scooter industry.
“I don’t see these other organisations tackling the specific issues surrounding these small devices, such as appropriate power outputs for electric unicycles and electric skateboards,” Tom said.
“In the e-bike world, there’s discussions around power outputs and some legislative regimes around e-bikes are very specific about the power levels they are allowed to generate. Those types of prescriptive rules just don’t make any sense in the world of devices like a powered unicycle, which need substantially more power output than some other devices, simply because they’re using power to keep the rider upright.
“However, we’re all on the same team and if other advocacy groups turn their minds to those issues and advocate in a way that is reflective of how our community sees things, then that’s fantastic. We’d like to explore opportunities for collaboration.
“It’s extremely important we get as much support as we can from all parts of the industry, whether that’s people selling devices at a retail level, importing devices from overseas, manufacturing and designing devices and people in the community who are riding devices.”
He said ERA was also looking for involvement from people who don’t ride but have an interest in safety in public spaces.
“We need people to collaborate so we have the most dynamic mobility solutions in our cities and towns, while protecting vulnerable people who just want to walk peacefully down the street without being run over,” Tom said.
“At the moment the dominant dialogue around electric scooters in Australia is the hit piece on television news about the drunk person on a scooter who crashes into an old lady.
“We need a number of organisation to come together and start to share the industry’s voice with the community, to share the benefits of micromobility, this new way of getting around that has been enabled through incredible advances in technology and is not going away.”
ERA will be at Stand 124 the expo, when the 2022 Micromobility Conference & Expo is held on 25th and 26th November at Sydney’s Royal Randwick Racecourse.