e-scooter trials in Victoria

Electric powered scooters (e-scooters) are increasingly being used as a form of transport in major cities around the world, including in Australia. In Victoria, we have seen an increasing number of people ride private e-scooters on public roads and footpaths despite being illegal to do so.

E-scooters have the potential to provide greater transport options for Victorians, providing a sustainable transport option for short journeys that reduces environmental impacts and connects people to public transport. However, this new technology also presents risks, with the safety of e-scooter riders and other users of the transport network interacting with e-scooters being a key concern. 

We’re undertaking controlled trials of e-scooters to understand the benefits and risks associated with this new transport technology and to test if these vehicles can safely fit into the state’s transport network. 

The Victorian Government has partnered with the City of Melbourne, City of Yarra, City of Port Phillip and the regional City of Ballarat to run e-scooter trials following a targeted expression of interest process in 2021. The trials will run for up to 12 months, making it legal for e-scooters operated by commercial hire companies to travel within designated council areas, subject to safety-based trial regulations.

e scooter rules you need to knowTrial rules

The trial’s regulatory framework has been developed with a range of stakeholders, including our road safety partners, and are being enforced by Victoria Police.

For the trial, e-scooter riders: 
  • can only ride commercial hire e-scooters by approved operators
  • can only ride in participating council areas(see maps below)
    • operators will use geofencing technology to limit the devices to these areas, and there are no-go and go-slow zones within trial areas
  • can only ride on bicycle lanes, shared paths and lower speed roads (up to 50km/h)
    • riders are not permitted on roads with a speed limit of 60km/h or higher, even if there is a protected bike lane
    • riders should slow down and give way to pedestrians on shared paths
  • must not ride on footpaths
  • will be automatically speed limited to 20km/h
  • must be at least 18 years old
  • must wear a helmet
  • must not ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • must not consume intoxicating substances whilst riding
  • must not use a mobile device while riding
  • must not carry passengers
  • must ride single file
  • must park an e-scooter in accordance with council and operator requirements 
    • in an upright position on the kerbside, in a manner that does not obstruct the footpath for pedestrians
    • no-parking areas and preferred parking areas will be shown in the app

Penalties and infringements apply (see FAQs

Drug/drink driving penalty regime 

You do not need a driver’s licence or learner permit to ride an e-scooter during the trial, however if you are caught riding an e-scooter with a blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05 or above you will:

  • face heavy fines
  • lose any driver licence or learner permit you hold
  • be disqualified from getting a new licence or permit for a period of time
  • need to complete a behaviour change program before getting a new driver licence or learner permit
  • only be permitted to drive a motor vehicle which has an alcohol interlock installed for at least 6 months after you get your licence or permit back
  • only be permitted to drive a motor vehicle with a zero BAC for at least 3 years.

Infringement penalties, court fines and disqualification periods scale up depending on a range of factors, including the BAC level and the number of drink-driving or drug-driving offences previously committed. Higher minimum disqualification periods and fines apply for combined drink and drug driving offences. 

Metropolitan Melbourne

e-scooter trial map Melbourne

View a larger version of the map

 

Ballarat area

Ballarat e-scooter trial map

View a larger version of the map

 

The current value of a penalty unit in Victoria is $181.74. 

Offence Penalty infringement Amount
Ride a high-powered privately owned e-scooter on a public road or road related area 1-5 penalty units $182 - $909
Ride outside of a participating council area 1 penalty unit $182
Ride e-scooter on a footpath 1 penalty unit $182
Ride e-scooter on a road with a speed-limit greater than 50 km per hour 1 penalty unit $182
Ride e-scooter alongside another rider or (i.e. riding 2 abreast) 1 penalty unit $182
Ride e-scooter if under 18 years of age 1 penalty unit $182
Exceed speed limit on electric scooter (i.e. 20km/h max) 1.25 penalty units $227
Carry another person on e-scooter 1 penalty unit $182
Consume intoxicating liquor while riding electronic scooter 1.25 penalty units $227
Exceed 0.05 BAC or zero presence for prescribed drugs The same penalty regime that applies to motorists applies to e-scooter riders during the trial.
See drink-driving and drug-driving penalties
Use a handheld mobile phone whilst riding 3 penalty units $545
Failing to wear helmet 1.25 penalty units $227
Fail to obey traffic lights 2.5 penalty units + $363+

Governance

The Minister for Roads and Road Safety has set up an Oversight Panel to provide guidance and make recommendations at the conclusion of the trial.

In addition to the Oversight Panel, the Department of Transport has established a Steering Committee to conduct an evaluation of the trial and report to the Oversight Panel. 

Significant anonymised data will be gathered during the 12-month trial to support the evaluation of the trial. 

Report an issue 

The operators are responsible for all aspects of the trial e-scooters’ operation. Any issues can be reported directly, 24 hours a day.  

Lime

Neuron

Neuron 

Why are you doing this?

E-scooters have been readily available to buy in Victoria for years, but are illegal in public spaces, including roads and footpaths. Currently private e-scooters only legally be ridden on private property in Victoria.

The Victorian Government recognises there are potential benefits to allowing higher-power e-scooters on transport network, such as connecting the community to public transport hubs, providing an alternative to short car trips, and reducing carbon emissions. 

Jurisdictions around the world are working to understand how best to regulate e-scooters, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. 

We are conducting our own trial so we can test these devices on our transport network and see how, and if, they can be safely incorporated more broadly.

The trial complements the National Transport Commission’s review into personal mobility devices (PMDs)—and subsequent amendments to the Australian Road Rules—by providing Victoria with real-world data to inform the state’s adoption of these amendments. In this way, the trial will inform the future regulation of private e-scooters use and other PMDs.

How did you choose which councils to partner with?

The Department of Transport undertook a targeted expression of interest (EOI) process, inviting several council areas throughout the state to participate in the trial. 

Selection criteria were based on several factors, including the council’s location and geography (i.e. adequate network of 50km/h roads to access places of interest; and a connected road network with enough bike lanes), resident and visitor density, tourism potential, and other factors. 

Will you be adding more council areas to the trial?

There are no current plans to extend the e-scooter trial.  An independent Oversight Panel is tasked with monitoring the trial, evaluating trial outcomes and making recommendations to the Minister for Roads and Road Safety. The Minister will make a decision on whether to expand, cease or extend the trial based on outcomes of the trial. 

Who chose the e-scooter operators?

Participating Councils undertook their own processes to choose which commercial operators to work with for the trial.

Can I ride my own privately-owned e-scooter in the trial or anywhere else?

In short, no. 

The Victorian Road Rules set thresholds on the allowable speed and power output of e-scooters. The current thresholds stipulate that powered scooters with a power capacity exceeding 200 watts or capable of travelling at speeds greater than 10km/h are illegal to ride on public roads in Victoria. Most newer model e-scooters exceed these thresholds and therefore cannot be used on Victorian public roads and footpaths at this time.

Riders of privately-owned high-powered e-scooters on public roads risk a $909 fine for riding an unregistered vehicle (you cannot register an e-scooter as a vehicle as they do not meet the Australian Design Rules for a motor vehicle), which Victoria Police are responsible for enforcing and are actively doing so.

Then why can you buy e-scooters at mainstream retail outlets?

High-powered e-scooters can be used on private land, which is why they can be sold by retailers. 

We acknowledge that some retailers have failed to make it clear to customers that these devices can’t be ridden on public roads or footpaths in Victoria.

Has this always been the case?

Yes. The e-scooter trial has not changed the pre-existing rules for private high-powered e-scooter use. Use of such e-scooters on public roads and paths has always been prohibited under Victorian law.  Responsibility for enforcing road rules – including the rules relating to use of e-scooters – is an operational matter for Victoria Police, however riders breaching the rules have always done so at the risk of being issued penalty infringements by Police.

Will privately-owned e-scooters be legalised after the trial?

The purpose of the trial is to gain essential learnings about whether these new devices can be safely integrated into the Victorian transport network. 

The trial will provide Victoria with real-world data to inform the future regulation of e-scooters. 

Why are you only allowing commercial hire e-scooters in the trial?

The focus of the trial on commercial shared e-scooter schemes enables the trial to be conducted in a more controlled environment, as commercial schemes can limit the operation of their devices (for example, by geofencing and speed-limiting), and operators are required to share anonymised, aggregate data to inform the evaluation of the trial. Commercial operators are also required to provide riders with adequate personal injury and liability insurance.

Where can e-scooters be parked? 

E-scooters should be parked in an upright position on the kerbside, at least 1.5 metres from buildings and in a manner that does not obstruct the footpath for pedestrians.
No-parking areas will be shown in the app. Some operators establish virtual parking stations, which can be seen in the app and riders get rewarded for parking their e-scooter in the designated areas. Others require you to take a picture of your parked scooter to show it’s been parked safely. Repeated violations will be mean the user gets banned. 

How safe are e-scooters?

E-scooters that are part of the trial are fitted with a range of safety features not seen on private e-scooters. As well as integrated helmets they are all fitted with GPS and geofencing technology which controls where they can be ridden and parked, and automatically adjusts their speed in different areas. E-scooters cannot leave the boundaries of the e-scooter trial’s riding area and there are slow-zones, no-ride zones and no-parking zones to improve safety. They will continue to be adjusted throughout the trail. 

Riders sign up to a comprehensive list of riding rules before they are allowed to take their first trip. These highlight that they need to be over 18 and that only one person is allowed on an e-scooter at a time. The rules are clear when it comes to not riding on the footpath and appear in the app that riders see at the start of every trip. 

All e-scooters have unique registration plates, are GPS-connected and every trip is logged which helps identify anyone behaving irresponsibly. Members of the public can report any issues, including pavement riding, and incorrect parking, directly to the operator. 

How many incidents do you expect to occur and what’s acceptable?

There is no acceptable level of incidents in this trial, and we have placed a number of restrictions on the use of these scooters as part of the trial, such as speed restrictions and forbidding footpath riding, to make the trial as safe as possible. 

We will be carefully monitoring the trial with our road safety partners. Part of what we want to find out is the risk/benefit profile of these devices in Victoria against other transport modes, noting every mode carries some risk. 

What action can be taken if a rider breaches the rules or is involved in an incident?

The operators are responsible for all aspects of  trial e-scooter operations. Any issues can be reported directly, 24 hours a day. 

Each e-scooter in the trial has an identifiable number plate, so members of the public can report any issues to the operators. Operators can completely ban riders for certain breaches, including if the rider is underage.

More serious incidents, such as wilful damage to e-scooters or to property, or environmental vandalism, will be reported to police. All e-scooters in the trials are GPS-enabled and are tracked, so its location is always known. User and non-user identification can almost always be ascertained, and offenders can be prosecuted. 

What insurance measures are in place for the Victorian e-scooter trial?

As part of the Victorian e-scooter trial, e-scooter operators are required to have Public Liability coverage of at least $20 million and provide personal injury insurance to riders.
Both operators participating in the trial also provide third party insurance to riders, which provides protection for accidental injuries or property damage to a third party (like a pedestrian or car owner) that a rider might cause during their ride. 

Riders must be riding legally and following the road rules and the operator’s conditions for the insurance to apply. 

Does TAC coverage apply to e-scooter riders?

Transport Accident Commission (TAC) coverage generally applies if an incident involves a motor vehicle (regardless of who is at fault), but doesn’t apply if there is no motor vehicle involvement (generally). Personal injury and third party insurance will apply in most cases where TAC insurance doesn’t apply, provided the rider is riding legally and following the road rules and the operator’s conditions.

Why can e-scooters only travel single file when bicycles can legally travel two abreast? 

E-scooters being ridden in the trial are speed limited to 20km/h. This means riders can’t speed up to overtake if required, so single file is an additional safety measure. In addition, average cycling speeds are often faster than 20km/h, so there is a risk that e-scooters could clog up bikes lanes and prevent faster cyclists from overtaking safely.

Are the operators (Lime/Neuron) being paid for the trial?

No. These companies will not be paid by Department of Transport or councils to participate.

How much is the trial costing the State?

There is no additional cost to the State associated with the e-scooter trial; the trial is being managed within existing resources.

Do I need a driver’s licence to ride an E-scooter?

No. You don’t need a licence; however, drink and drug driving restrictions that apply to other motorists will apply to e-scooter riders, which means you’ll need to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of less than 0.05 and zero for prescribed drugs or you will lose your licence and face heavy fines. 

How will this trial be monitored and what are the next steps planned after the trial is completed?

The trial will be monitored by Department of Transport, participating councils and our road safety partners. 

Outcomes from the e-scooter trial will help inform the future use of e-scooters and other personal mobility devices in Victoria.

Towards the conclusion of the trials, an independent Oversight Panel will make recommendations to the Minister for Roads and Roads Safety regarding the longer-term regulation potential for these and similar devices.

 

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