Last year, during one of our countless lockdowns, I bought a scooter. I had seen them out and about in the city and they struck me as a cost-effective, fun, environmentally friendly alternative for the daily commute.
I’m a doctor in a city hospital, and I genuinely thought I was doing the right thing by my fellow commuters: nobody wants to sit next to the woman who has spent an entire day in the COVID ward.
Hundreds of e-scooters have been deployed to Melbourne’s streets over the past two weeks.Credit:Penny Stephens
Fast forward about a year and if you believe the commentary, I’m now public enemy number one. So please, let me explain: not all of us scooter riders are out to terrorise pedestrians or ride 20km/hour over the Bolte Bridge. Most of us just want to get to work.
I wear a helmet. I stick to the bike lanes. My scooter has a brake light and a headlight. I’m courteous to pedestrians, even when they step in front of me while fixated on their phones. It is true that I am not a perfect rider all the time, and I have made the occasional mistake. But I’m responsible.
It has been very frustrating over the past few weeks to witness tandem rides on hire scooters and helmet-less clowns clumsily navigating their way through foot traffic on footpaths.
E-scooters are being used for leisure and for commuting.Credit:Penny Stephens
I do question the wisdom of legalising e-scooters only for hire companies. The cheap, brightly coloured scooters are designed for visitors and passersby to enjoy. I’ve made an investment in mine, and plan to use it daily for practical purposes.
Would this not have been a better target demographic for the trial?
That’s not to say that all scooter owners are responsible. I’ve seen some bad behaviour, but it’s nothing I haven’t already witnessed from drivers and traditional bike riders alike. It’s also true that the addition of e-scooters on the road may increase the risk of injury, and I was very sad to hear about the recent fatality of a scooter rider in the news.
Please don’t equate all scooter riders with hoons or nuisances. There are many, like me, who genuinely want to share the road and dual paths respectfully. It’s worth remembering that I’m one less car on the street or in a city car park, and I think this is something we should encourage and protect.
Nicole Hallett is a Melbourne doctor and e-scooter user.
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