Police crackdown on scooters

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Rhonda Dredge

There’s a right and a wrong way to ride an e-scooter and Highway Patrol at North Melbourne Police Station is being forced to police it.

The wrong way involves setting off on a joy ride along the footpath without a helmet, as witnessed on Queensberry St.

The right way is demonstrated by Lois of West Melbourne as she tootles off to do her shopping.

Lois is wearing a helmet and is riding in the bicycle lane on Chetwynd St. She stops at the lights and obeys the road rules.

She hasn’t stumbled out of her apartment, noticed an e-scooter on the footpath and shown off to her flat mates by heading off towards Errol St.

It was week two in a trial release of 1500 e-scooters across inner Melbourne and they were still such a novelty that riders were seen hooning down the tram lines on Victoria St and dodging pedestrians on the footpath on Errol St.

Sergeant Alix Watson of North Melbourne Highway Patrol is worried about the safety of these “vulnerable road users”, particularly those not wearing helmets.

“The helmet is attached. Put it on your head,” she said. “We’re having to police it.”

She’s seen people end up in hospital after being hit standing outside a pub and landing on the ground.

“Why not put on a helmet if you’re travelling at 20 kilometres an hour,” she suggested.

She said that because the scooters were electric, riders stand with “both feet in front of the other” and “people jump on them who have never ridden a scooter.”

She said the scooter could wobble and the “weird sensation” of riding a scooter for the first time could lead to ignoring road rules.

A police blitz on the first Friday of the roll-out resulted in more than three dozen fines in the CBD.

The publicity also prompted action by council employees. An attendant in front of the North Melbourne Library on Errol Street told off two scooter riders.

“They’ll get fined for riding on the footpath,” he said. “The police are cracking down. Even cyclists can be fined.”

He said that people coming out of the library could be knocked down. Police confirmed that pedestrian accidents had already occurred.

Privately-owned electric scooters are also being targeted. It is illegal to ride them on the road, Sergeant Watson said, except those with a speed limit of 10 kph.

A mother wrote an opinion piece in The Age in favour of scooters. She rides her child four kilometres to school on one.

This is also illegal. “It’s not legal to have a second person on them,” Sergeant Watson said. “We can’t have kids on scooters. They must be over 18.” •

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