The Queensland Government is being urged to legislate for all E scooters and motorised bikes to be registered and subject to compulsory third party insurance.
That’s the view of Queensland compensation lawyer Bruce Simmonds who says Queensland streets have become like the Wild West with uncontrolled E scooter and motorised bike users endangering pedestrians.
He says a recently announced E scooter safety crackdown is long overdue but doesn’t go far enough. From November 1, speed limits on some footpaths will be halved to 12kmh, while e-scooters will need to be equipped with warning devices, such as a bell. Enforcement powers to take non-compliant devices off the streets will also be introduced under the reforms, as well as increased penalties for riders who break the rules.
But Mr Simmonds, Litigation Director of Gold Coast- based Queensland law firm Parker Simmonds Solicitors & Lawyers, says the new safety measures are woefully short of what is needed now.
“They ignore the dangers of mixing E scooters and motorised skateboards on the crowded confines of footpaths.
“The situation is that scooters and motorised bikes that meet the limited capacity requirements don’t need third-party insurance and don’t require to be registered. This is wrong and needs to be rectified as a matter of urgency,” he says.
Mr Simmonds says the issue has been graphically illustrated by a particular case for a client where it was suspected that a modified bike was used in the accident and because of the modification in the power increase it would be required to be registered.
“We believe all motorised devices used on public pathways and roads should require a form of third-party registration” he says.
“At present the person riding the scooter is legally liable if they injure someone. E scooters are not permitted to travel on the road but if they were allowed, they would have to be registered and have compulsory insurance.
“It’s a legal grey area in many ways but if the state government is aware that allowing scooters to travel faster than walking pace on footpaths and does nothing to address the safety issues, the state could be held liable for injuries suffered in scooter accidents” he says.
Mr Simmonds is acting for a client struck by an e scooter on a Gold Coast footpath and says mixing E scooters, motorised skateboards and pedestrians together is guaranteed to generate more injuries and compensation claims.
A current police safety crackdown on E scooter riders is focused on rider behaviour, safety helmets and exceeding the speed limit.
“The state which has unlimited powers on such matters should insist that if scooters are travelling at more than 10 kmh, which is walking pace, they should be registered and carry compulsory insurance.
“That’s the law already for disability vehicles ridden on roads so it should also apply to E scooters and motorised skateboards” he says.
Mr Simmonds says the question of whether E scooters should be allowed on the roads is one the state government needs to address urgently.
“At the moment riders are not required to have third party insurance and so if they injure someone on a footpath the victim has to sue them for compensation.
“If these devices have the capacity to travel at a faster than walking pace they should be better regulated.
“Realistically if E scooters can do more than 10kmh they should be registered and the riders should have to be insured” he says.