As someone who had never set a foot on an e-scooter before, 21-year-old Jay Lindsay from Wanniassa stopped after five minutes into his test ride and declared: "well, this is kinda cool".
"And you don't have to pay any rego."
Under changes to ACT legislation which come into effect on Friday, anyone can e-scoot legally around Canberra up to a maximum of 15km/h on footpaths and 25km/h on shared roadways.
Fyshwick businessman Rob Ogilvie, whose all-electric showroom Ion DNA sells a variety of models, said Tuesday's announcement by ACT Road Safety Minister Shane Rattenbury should provide a lift in public awareness of what these machines and other e-mobility devices offer.
"They are a lot of fun and most machines are speed limited to 25km/h," Mr Ogilvie said. "Most are light enough to keep in the boot of your car so you can park up and then zip into the city.
"It's great for people who need to travel those final 3-4 kilometres to work and if you need to get up a hill; the electric motor just takes you there."
The ACT legislation follows Queensland which is the only other state to allow e-scooters to be ridden on footpaths and bike lanes at a speed greater than 10km/h.
Riders will be required to wear an approved bike helmet, have a bell, lights and reflectors fitted, they cannot use a mobile phone while riding, nor be impaired by alcohol.
Most e-scooters require a few fast-paced steps alongside it by the rider before the motor engages and the machine then moves along on its own with a gentle motorcycle-type twist of the right-hand throttle.
Once the lightweight machine starts rolling, it's stable and changes direction with a gentle lean. Most have a big brake on the back which has ample stopping power using a lever on the handlebars.
The range from the rechargeable battery is up to 60km.
Prices range from around $700 up to $1700 for the Unagi Model One, which Mr Ogilvie described as the "Tesla of e-scooters". It's light to carry, foldable and with a crisp, Apple-type design.
"These are the uber-coolest of the e-scooters; it's like having the latest iPhone," he said.
Commercial e-scooter-sharing operations are certain to arrive in the ACT quickly in the wake of the regulatory announcement.
In hilly Brisbane, a company branded as Lime was first granted a trial in late 2018 and now has more than 500 e-scooters on its fleet across the city.
Like the bike rental schemes, the user downloads an app, signs up online and provided they have a helmet, for only a dollar can unlock a scooter, jump on and scoot down the street at up to 25km/h.
The mobility devices have attracted a fair share of criticism from disgruntled pedestrians who find the rented e-scooters discarded on footpaths and in random locations as their batteries give out too far from a docking point for customers to bother returning them.
Under federal law, the power output of unregistered electric mobility devices must be capped at 200 watts. Both the Minister and ACT police admit that there's no simple and easy way to check the output, which was why creating a speed limit was seen as the more workable solution.
In May this year, a 50-year-old man in Brisbane was Australia's first recorded e-scooter fatality when he suffered injuries and had a heart attack after a crash.
The Canberra Times
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