Segways, scooters 'the future of Canberra's commute'
Segway riders at Commonwealth Place. Photo: Melissa Adams
The ACT government should drop its dreams of a cycling city and look instead to get Canberrans commuting to work on vehicles like Segways and electric scooters, the Planning Institute of Australia has said.
The institute wants the city's cycling lanes upgraded into mini-highways for ''personal mobility devices'' and traffic laws changed to allow the use of such vehicles.
The territory's strategy to get people out of cars and increase the use of Canberra's cycling network was ''fundamentally flawed'' and would not produce the desired outcome, the institute's ACT president, Vivian Straw, said.
The draft strategic cycle network plan was innovative and comprehensive but it was flawed and would not be the transport mode-changing plan Canberra needed, he said.
He said riding a bicycle to work in Canberra would remain the choice only of Lycra-clad cycling enthusiasts. For most people it was too sweaty a pursuit and held little appeal as a means of transport.
''We don't live in a compact city,'' Mr Straw said.
''Asking people to leave the car at home, put on the gear, cycle 20 kilometres and then shower and change for work will only suit certain people,'' he said.
''The new cycle network plan has merit and will deliver for cyclists but it certainly won't do what the government wants it to do.''
Mr Straw said he had a better idea: convert the city's extensive network of bicycle lanes into byways for Segways, foldaway electric bicycles and electric scooters.
''In some Australian cities, the change would possibly require a protected lane that could separate the personal mobility device from traffic and pedestrians,'' Mr Straw said. ''In many places this means taking out quite a bit of road.
''In Canberra it already exists. There is already a significant off-road cycle network that would need a little widening and improvement at traffic lights to make a big improvement for a relatively small cost.''
Mr Straw said that Canberra's cycle infrastructure had not made cycling as popular among its citizens as had been hoped.
''Canberra has the best cycling network of any Australian capital city but it also has the lowest participation rate,'' the planning institute's president said.
''That situation is unlikely to change unless we take more bold and well thought-out decisions.''
The institute said there were a number of personal mobility devices being embraced by commuters in countries all over the world but their use here is constrained by rules on what constitutes a vehicle that is allowed to be used on public roads.
Personal vehicles such as Segways, YikeBikes, electric scooters, mobility scooters, mopeds, electric scooters, RoboScooters, and electric tricycles offer realistic, perspiration-free safe alternatives to a standard bicycle, but their use is generally illegal.
There are alternatives that can provide safe, perspiration-free transport but the new plan does not address this issue.
Mr Straw said bold decisions on making relatively small changes to road and cycling networks to permit the use of a range of personal mobility devices was what was needed, even if the political cost of change was seen to be high.
''Good planning is about taking those visionary steps for more workable communities in the future,'' Mr Straw said.
Poll: Would you welcome electric transport such as Segways and scooters on Canberra’s bike paths?
- Yes absolutely. Cycling is too sweaty. We should be able to glide to work in comfort.
- No way. Bike lanes are for bikes, not electric path hoggers. How hard is it to shower at work anyway?
- Doesn't concern me - electric or not, you'll never see me commuting on a bike path.
Total votes: 1507.
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Poll closed 12 Dec, 2012
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