Soon it will be possible to traverse most of Canberra on a rented e-scooter, with the ACT government set to act on the recommendations of a review which suggested rolling the transport option out city wide.
But there will be tighter rules and new laws to prevent people misusing the micromobility devices, including a three-strikes-and-out rule for riders.
Transport Minister Chris Steel said the government would explore a phased expansion of the e-scooter scheme, set to cover Canberra by the end of 2022.
"We understand that some Canberrans do hold safety concerns about e-scooters, and through our response to the review we are acting on that feedback," Mr Steel said.
"We are already working with operators Beam and Neuron to improve the safety and operation of the current scheme ahead of its proposed expansion."
The next phase of the e-scooter rollout would introduce the scheme - privately operated by Neuron and Beam - to Woden and Gungahlin, and connect areas between Belconnen and central Canberra, where the scheme already operates.
West Belconnen, Weston Creek, the Molonglo Valley and the Tuggeranong region would be added to the scheme later.
The expansion of the e-scooter scheme into new areas would be subject to future consultation, the government said.
Both e-scooter scheme operators welcomed the government's decision to expand e-scooter operation across the city.
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Beam's general manager for Australia and New Zealand, Tom Cooper, said the company was excited to expand the scheme across Canberra.
"Since our launch in Canberra last year, we have seen e-scooters take off in popularity and become increasingly entrenched in Canberrans' daily life - be it commuting to and from places of work and education, running errands and visiting bars and restaurants. They have also been popular amongst interstate and intrastate tourists as a great way to explore Australia's capital," Mr Cooper said.
"As micromobility becomes more commonplace in cities, we believe its usage will only continue to increase exponentially, with more citizens engaging on the streets and leaving their cars behind."
A spokesperson for Neuron Mobility said the company would aim to integrate its service into the wider transport network and continue to support the government's expansion of the environmentally friendly and convenient car alternative.
"Our focus on safety is not just for our riders but for the wider community, In May 2021, we launched Australia's first - and only - third party rider liability insurance for e-scooters and e-bikes, in a move to protect and reassure riders as well as the wider community," the spokesperson said.
A six-month review of the e-scooter scheme, which began in September 2020, completed by Curijo Pty Ltd found current regulation was generally appropriate but there was some confusion about road rules.
"Users generally find e-scooters safe but there are opportunities to enhance safety, particularly in areas where they are being used alongside pedestrians and cyclists," a summary of the review's findings prepared by the ACT government said.
A three-strikes-and-out rule will be introduced, which will mean users who repeatedly flout rules, including not wearing a helmet or parking scooters inappropriately, could have their accounts suspended.
The government will also look to designate safe parking areas, improve geofenced no-go and low-speed zones and legislate against drink riding, Mr Steel said.
"E-scooters have been incredibly popular with Canberrans and we will continue to enhance the safety of the scheme, encourage better integration with public transport and maximise the benefits of this new mode of travel," he said.
The government will also work to prevent riders taking scooters on arterial roads between Canberra's districts, including introducing geofencing on main roads.
"Most current e-scooter trips are 1 to 2 kilometres. But we recognise that as the scheme expands, some riders may choose to use the devices for longer trips - such as between town centres," the ACT government's response said.
"We will consider how to safely connect up Canberra's different regions, with a focus on encouraging the use of existing paths."
The government noted a recommendation in the review to determine whether injury statistics from e-scooters would influence future policy decisions.
Between September 2020 and June, there were 170 hospital admissions in the ACT for accidents involving "pedestrian conveyances".
The "pedestrian conveyance" category does include skate-boards and roller-blades as well as scooters, but the assumption is that most of the hospital admissions came from the newly introduced scooters.
The Legislative Assembly in June passed a motion moved by Labor backbencher Michael Pettersson calling for the e-scooter scheme to be expanded to other parts of Canberra.
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