Council has agreed to go ahead with the next steps for a proposed e-scooter hire trial in urban Bendigo in 2024.
Mayor Cr Andrea Metcalf said Councillors carefully considered the benefits of a 12-month trial.
“We looked at how e-scooter hire trials have been operating in similar cities like Ballarat and Launceston,” Cr Metcalf said.
“The research has helped us to understand what we need to take on board to effectively introduce a trial.
“Both Ballarat and Launceston have found the hire e-scooter schemes to be a positive addition overall to support tourism opportunities, give people an alternative travel option for short trips and to help reduce carbon emissions.
“Our 12-month trial will begin next year, and we plan to seek consultation prior to the trial with key external stakeholders such as the Victorian Police and Bendigo Health.
“The next step is to seek a commercial operator through an expression of interest process early next year and work with them in preparing a 12-month trial.
“We would want to see the e-scooter operator play an important role in community education as well as monitoring and maintenance.
“The trial will provide a good amount of data to assess its success as an alternative mode of transport in urban Bendigo.”
In April 2023, the Victorian Government extended the e-scooter hire programs across Victoria, enabling all councils to directly engage with operators to set up a trial.
Data from the trials shows the main reasons people hire a trial e-scooter are for leisure, social outings, commuting or to visit cafes, reducing congestion and carbon emissions. Research showed short trips ranged between 2km to 2.5km.
City staff also contacted several hire scooter companies to understand how they operate including e-scooter parking, compliance, use of apps, the response to incidents/queries, and education programs to establish good practice when using hire e-scooters.
The proposed operating area at this stage closely aligns with the Bendigo Regional City Loop Trail and incorporates the City’s shared path network and protected cycleways. The area includes some of the City’s main tourist sites and major destinations such as Lake Weeroona, Bendigo Botanic Gardens at White Hills, Kennington Reservoir, La Trobe University, Bendigo Train Station, Prince of Wales Showgrounds and Central Deborah Gold Mine.
The e-scooter trial recommendations and proposed conditions would include the following:
- Engage a single operator
- Undertake the trial for at least 12 months to get data from all seasons and have an external working group to help with the roll out plan
- Identify and designate marked parking bays on public land within the city centre that do not interfere with the accessibility of other road users and pedestrians
- Ensure guidelines are provided on appropriate parking within residential areas to be delivered through the booking app
- Consider offering rider benefits for parking in preferred locations outside of the city centre
- Restrict operating hours (suggested riding time from 5am to 11pm)
- Ensure flexibility to make changes in parking and restricted areas throughout the trial
- Integrate the parking and deployment areas with public transport and key tourism destinations
- If the trial is a success and the operator secures a long-term contract with the City, consider charging the operator and use the revenue to improve shared paths
- Restrict e-scooters in the trial from areas where the roads and the bike paths are narrow to discourage users from illegally riding on footpaths
No-go zones would include roads where the speed limit exceeds 60 kilometres per hour, Lyttleton Terrace near Coles, and Pall Mall, Hargreaves Street and Bull Street on Friday and Saturday nights. Rosalind Park, Lake Weeroona, Hargreaves Mall and Pall Mall may also be considered ‘no-go’ or ‘slow speed zones’.
It should be noted that the operating area and restrictions outlined in this report will only apply to e-scooters in the trial. Privately owned e-scooters can be used throughout the state and are governed by rules issued by the Victorian Government, with penalties enforced by the police.
This proposed initiative is supported by the City’s Integrated Transport and Land Use Strategy 2015 (ITLUS), the Council Plan (Mir wimbul) 2021-2025 and the Climate Change and Environment Strategy 2021-2026.