Council will decide next week whether to engage an operator and start an e-scooter trial in urban Bendigo in 2024.
In April 2023, the Victorian Government extended the e-scooter trial program across Victoria, enabling all councils to directly engage with operators to set up a trial program.
City of Greater Bendigo Manager Strategic Planning Anthony Petherbridge said the Council report for consideration looked at how e-scooter trials have been operating in other cities.
“Important lessons learnt from existing e-scooter schemes in other cities have helped to shape the recommendations in this report, which also considers the needs and requirements necessary for the trial to work effectively in this region,” Mr Petherbridge said.
“Our research primarily focused on e-scooter trial experiences in Ballarat and Launceston in Tasmania, both cities are similar in size to Bendigo in terms of population and economy.
“The cities found they were able to respond well to initial concerns and address teething issues and now find hire e-scooters to be a positive addition to their cities to reduce emissions, boost tourism opportunities, and provide an alternative mode of transport for short trips.”
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.
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.
If the report is approved at next week’s Council meeting, the next step would be to seek a commercial operator through an expressions of interest process and to work with them in preparing a 12-month trial.
The City would also seek consultation prior to the trial with key external stakeholders.
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.
If approved at Council, 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
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.