It is a reality that cannot be dismissed or ignored. And the same reality is also fraught with undeniable challenges and problems.
It doesn’t take long to see the pitfalls of e-scooter sharing in Australia. So, for better understanding of the issues involving e-scooter sharing in Australia, let us detail the downsides of renting an e-scooter:
• Safety concerns:
Since you don’t have direct access to knowing the condition or history of the scooter you're renting, you wouldn’t know for sure if it is well-maintained or not, if it is safe or not to ride. In addition, you may also have to share the road with cars, bikes, and pedestrians. This can increase the risk of getting into accidents or injuries – you, as the rider and the pedestrian, for that matter. A blog post by Mearth electric scooters bared that renting electric scooters simply means you're sharing the electric ecooter with anyone and everyone else, yes, with the public as a whole. The transfer of ride to the next rider doesn’t give you an inch of a clue how the last rider used these e-scooters for rent.
Just so you know, scooter-sharing services typically charge by the minute or hour, and that you may also have to pay extra fees for parking, unlocking, or extending your ride. Raine Electric Scooter posted a blog wherein renting an electric scooter can be cost-effective but only for occasional use. Over time, you’ll soon realize it can become more expensive. Now, that’s a hassle.
• Limited customization options:
Those who rent an electric scooter know this all too well. Whatever is available from the rental company, that you have to use. You can’t just take your pick on the type and model of scooter you prefer. Another thing is that you may not be able to choose or customize it to your preferences. Plus, there issues that you, as the rider have to deal with -- like low battery, flat tires, or faulty brakes, according to a blog post by Cachet Services. Keep your expectations to a minimum, because when you rent an electric scooter, you're limited to the options available from the rental company.
• Regulatory Inconsistency:
Electric scooter users find that different states and territories also have different set of rules and regulations for e-scooters. This can further add confusion and uncertainty to the users, operators, and authorities.
Today, the New South Wales is the only state that prohibits e-scooters to be ridden in public Victoria in South Australia, and the Northern Territory only allow these rideables at selected trial sites. What does this entail therefore? It can limit the availability and accessibility of e-scooters across the country, not to mention how it affects the electric scooters’ potential to help reduce traffic congestion and carbon emissions.
• Safety Concerns:
Electric scooters can pose safety risks -- for both riders and pedestrians, especially in crowded and busy areas. Since e-scooters can reach speeds up to 25 km/h and beyond, imagine if collisions or sudden falls occur, it can cause serious injuries and other complications.
In a study done by Monash University, there were about 776 electric scooter-related hospital admissions in Australia between 2017 and 2019, with head injuries being the most common.
Moreover, rented e-scooters have limited, customized options, and this can impede or cause barriers for people with disabilities or mobility impairments, as they may find it difficult to navigate the electric scooter around them or avoid a possible accident on footpaths.
• Economic Viability:
The e-scooters’ initial cost can be considered reasonable, but considering their short lifespan, it is nonetheless an issue that can affect their profitability and sustainability.
The Boston Consulting Group reported that the average cost of a basic e-scooter is about $599 and the average lifespan is about three to four months only.
Furthermore, the demand for e-scooters may be dependent on several factors like weather, seasonality, prevailing competition, and the customer’s preferences.
Evidently, the stumbling block in relation to e-scooter sharing in Australia need to be seriously addressed and resolved by stakeholders -- the government, operators, users, and the communities.
There is no doubt that electric scooters, whether rented or privately owned have huge potential to offer commuters, buyers. They're a fast, convenient, fun, and eco-friendly alternative mode of transport for urban mobility.
The bone of contention that must be settled soon, without further delay in regard to electric scooters, to eliminate the downside or pitfalls are that which require careful planning, regulation, and transport management -- to be able to ensure the riders’ and pedestrians’ safety, efficiency, and durability.