People who take up the chance to zoom through Brisbane's streets on an electric scooter during a planned trial could be fined up to $10,444, transport authorities have warned.
Scooter-sharing start-up Lime has been working with state government and council authorities to bring hundreds of its dockless scooters to Brisbane.
The company plans to go ahead with a trial of its electric scooters, which can travel at speeds of up to 27km/h, in Brisbane this weekend.
However, Transport and Main Roads executive director of transport access and use Nigel Ellis has written to Lime to warn participants would be breaking the law and could face hefty fines.
Queensland road rules state motorised scooters must not be able to travel faster than 10km/h and must have an electric motor of 200 watts output or less.
"I understand that the Lime eScooter has characteristics that exceed these specifications," Mr Ellis wrote.
"As such, the use of the Lime eScooter on Queensland roads and road-related areas is illegal."
Mr Ellis said Lime and users would be likely be committing several offences by using the scooters on roads and paths in Queensland as they could be considered unregistered motor vehicles.
Using an unregistered motor vehicle on a road carries an on-the-spot fine of $240 or a maximum penalty of $10,444, while using an illegal electric scooter on a path attracts an on-the-spot fine of $90 and a maximum penalty of $3011.
Mr Ellis said TMR was currently investigating changing the laws that governed electric scooters and other personal electric transportation devices.
"TMR recognises the utility of these devices in filling a gap in the transportation market," he wrote.
"However, care must be taken to ensure that any new devices that are introduced into the road network do not adversely affect safety.
"In particular, the safety of vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians, must be ensured."
Mr Ellis said TMR was willing to work with Lime but until legislative changes were progressed, it could not support the "illegal and potentially unsafe use of these devices on roads and paths in Queensland".
Brisbane deputy mayor Adrian Schrinner said he believed the scooters could help provide a new solution in the city's transport network, provided it was done safely.
Cr Schrinner said the devices could be an alternative to building expensive new park and ride facilities.
"It is disappointing the state government has taken this approach," he said.
"We'd like to see a more can do approach from the government when it comes to this new technology.
"This has been rolled out in more than 120 cities around the world already and we can't bury our head in the sand and pretend that new technology is not going to change the way we travel in the future."
Cr Schrinner said the question of whether helmets should be required to ride the scooters on bike paths should also be considered.
A Palaszczuk government spokesman said Lime's proposed investment in Queensland was exciting and would provide another travel option for people on the last section of the journey to work or home from public transport.
"The challenge for governments at all levels is working with the legislation that covers these services to make sure our laws don’t stop people from accessing them but at the same time allows them to do so in a safe and responsible way," he said.
The spokesman said people would be keen to try the Lime scooters but they should wear a helmet and take their safety and liability into account.
"The fact remains Lime's eScooters do not currently comply with Queensland's laws," he said.
"We understand Lime applied for exemptions from regulations in other locations to run their trials but chose not to take that approach in Queensland.
"As it stands their eScooters are illegal. It has signalled its intention to continue with its trial regardless."
The spokesman said the government was reviewing the laws, with the review expected to be completed in early 2019.
A Lime spokeswoman said it would go ahead with its pilot of electric scooters in Brisbane this weekend to give residents the opportunity to experience its service.
"We have been working closely with the Brisbane City Council and the Queensland government for more than four months," she said.
"We care deeply about creating the safest program for all Queenslanders."
The spokeswoman said the launch would include "a few hundred" scooters deployed in Brisbane, and more than 500 "juicers" would be employed to recharge the devices every night.
She said the Brisbane pilot followed the success of a Lime scooter pilot at Monash University in Melbourne and an electric bicycle pilot in Sydney, in addition to the quick uptake of scooters in New Zealand, with almost 354,000 trips since its launch in October.
Unlike the CityCycle scheme, Lime's electric scooters do not use docking stations, and users find and unlock the devices using a map on a mobile app.
Brisbane would be the first market for the rollout of Lime scooters in Australia.
The situation has some similarities to Uber's arrival in Brisbane.
Uber arrived in Brisbane in 2014, with transport authorities slapping drivers with millions of dollars in fines before ride-sharing was legalised in September 2016.
Lime has tech giants Uber and Google parent company Alphabet in its corners as investors.
LNP leader Deb Frecklington tried one of the scooters on Tuesday when representatives from Lime visited the Queensland Parliament, and Cr Schrinner has given them a spin.