In late 2020 Brisbane City Council published an e-mobility strategy draft as the community readies to integrate eco-friendly transportation along suburbs on Brisbane’s river.
E-mobility devices include electric scooters and bikes and promotes the use of renewable transportation in busy suburbs.
The draft scheme proposed responses to current issues and a plan to re-evaluate the e-mobility device presence in Brisbane’s community.
While the move to greater choice for e-mobility devices may have appeal with younger residents, there are some concerns among pedestrians and disability advocacy groups.
In its submission, Queensland Walks welcomed the initiative shown by the Brisbane City Council in preparing a draft e-mobility, saying the strategy recognises the significant growth in e-mobility devices in Brisbane.
Anna Campbell, executive officer of Queensland Walks, did however express dissatisfaction with the lack of acknowledgement of pedestrians and disabled members of the community.
“Queensland Walks would like to see local government prioritise walking …. and to … improve the places that we walk.” Ms Campbell responded to the draft strategy.
“We know that e-mobility devices will help reduce our reliance on private vehicles, … however our members of the community [should be] able to walk easily and safely.”
The draft strategy did not include plans for speed monitoring of private and public e-mobility devices, nor how the promoted use of these devices would be integrated into the streets and footpaths, especially in residential and commercial areas.
Locals in Brisbane’s West End have commented on these devices being ‘littered’ around the area and their dangerous use outside shop fronts and public walkways impacting both able-bodied and disabled people alike.
Ms Campbell noted the need for upgrades to the current standards of footpaths and kerb access around Brisbane.
“Many footpaths haven’t been widened since they were first installed. Many footpaths are not disability compliant, nor feature the necessary tactile pavement markers that help blind or low-vision walkers navigate.”
“Everyone has a right to be able to get where they need to go.”
Chair of Council’s Public and Active Transport Committee, Councillor Ryan Murphy said that Council is responding to demand.
“As Brisbane residents and visitors continue to want and use e-scooters and e-bikes, it is important we manage and support their use, not only with the infrastructure and permits Council is delivering, but with the enforcement of rules designed to keep everyone safe.”
Cr Ryan said $40 million per year is dedicated to creating or upgrade footpaths, with AUD$26 million of that allocated to maintenance and reconstruction, and that Council is open to hearing of footpaths that require safety attention.
“The Draft Strategy gave consideration to balancing the uptake of e-mobility on our existing footpaths and roads, including separation. An example of this already in practice is the CityLink Cycleway trial,” Cr Ryan said.
Regarding speed and safety concerns, Cr Murphy said that Council is encouraging the State Government to support the implementation of its strategy and more e-mobility by refining legislation to provide greater enforcement around speed and helmet usage.
Brisbane City Council is dismantling the 10 year old CityCycle bike-share scheme. The new strategy includes e-bikes with ‘dockless’ parking under arrangements similar to those currently used for the Lime and Neuron e-scooters. This strategy will require users to be respectful when dismounting their hired transport and leaving them in Brisbane streets.
Without setting out any clear reasoning for this, Cr Ryan said he considers replacing the docked CityCycles with dockless e-bikes will be “more flexible to users”, particularly around bridge and ferry terminals.
After considering responses from organisations such as Bicycle Queensland, Queensland Walks, and members of the public, Brisbane City Council said it will release its final strategy by mid-year 2021.
See the draft strategy HERE.
Feature image Shutterstock by Marlon Trottmann, other images Jan Bowman