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Tell hooligans to scoot

Opinion

Tell hooligans to scoot

Jane Stephens warns that we need to enforce e-scooter laws, so riders and pedestrians aren’t risking life and limb on roads and paths.

WHOOSH. She flew past me from behind as if on a hovercraft, skimming my elbow as I ran along the path in the early morning light.

As she evaporated into the grainy foreground, I could see she was atop an e-scooter but she was flying – or a hair’s breadth from it. I may have emitted an audible “whoa!” in fright, with the sight and report of too many collisions and close calls bouncing high behind my wide eyes.

What are we to do about the e-scooters?

How do we find a way to live with these vehicles alternately deemed our saviours from car clutter and the scourge of our paths and roadways? Blood is being spilt.

This month alone: a woman had to be cut from her vehicle after a crash with an e-scooter south of Brisbane; an e-scooter rider was hit by a car on the Gold Coast Highway; and a 14-year-old boy in Bundaberg died of horrendous head injuries after coming off an e-scooter without a helmet.

While many riders follow the rules, there are far too many ‘lucky miss’ situations hourly around the Coast. Hooligans scoot up the middle of the road, and yahoos pass too close and zoom on and off paths and roads – all at a rate of knots, well beyond anything legal or safe.

No one is denying e-scooters are a fabulous invention, nor that they are excellent fun. They help ease traffic congestion, get people from A to B easily in the great outdoors, and are affordable and portable. But they have become like cockroaches, causing pedestrians to scatter and shriek. They have become the carriages of the young and the restless, the wild and the careless.

Other nations have been tormented about what to do about e-scooters, too. Paris is the first European city to ban rented ones. Britain has banned them from trains and platforms. Let’s not agitate to change the rules just yet. Instead, enforce the laws we have. Wear helmets. Don’t double your mates. Be 16 years or older. Stay off roads that have dividing lines. Stick to a sedate speed on local streets. In Queensland, that means 12kmh on footpaths and 25kmh on bike paths and local streets.

Let’s hit reset, remind the wheeled speedsters that we share our commuting spaces, and come down hard in applying existing laws.

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Jane Stephens is a USC journalism lecturer, media commentator and writer.

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