Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Wollongong jumps on e-transport trial

Wollongong City Council will this week open an Expressions of Interest (or EOI) for participation in two Shared Micromobility Schemes.

The EOI is for an e-bike shared scheme, and the launch of a 12-month State Government e-scooter shared scheme trial.

The start of the e-scooter scheme is dependent on changes to road regulations by the NSW Government, and permission from Transport for NSW to participate in the trial, said Wollongong City Council General Manager, Greg Doyle.

“We are working hard for our city to be at the forefront of new opportunities and changing behaviours when it comes to moving about in our city,’’ said Mr Doyle.

“We’re always advocating on behalf of our community for opportunities that reduce our community’s reliance on private cars in favour of more sustainable options. That’s why we support the free Gong Shuttle and why we’re investing heavily in improved active transport links across the city.

“We’re also proudly a UCI Bike City and we’re delivering improved connectivity for cyclists all the time. Encouraging the use of an e-bike shared scheme just makes sense.”

Mr Doyle said that since the NSW Government announced plans for a shared e-scooter trial, Council had been approached by providers keen to provide such a service in the city.

“By working through an Expressions of Interest process now, we will be ready and prepared should we be given the green light to participate in the NSW Government’s trial,” he said.

Through the EOI process, shared micromobility providers will be tasked with providing Council with detailed documentation including their proposed trial location, their safety and standards considerations, how they’ll look after the environment and public spaces, their e-scooter and safety equipment specifications and information about their prior experience with shared micromobility trials.

While no locations for the shared e-scooter trial have been decided, Council has specified that the providers should ensure there is linkage between the busy Crown Street Mall and the foreshore area.

“I know this news will be exciting to some in our community who are champing at the bit to have easy and ready access to shared e-bikes and e-scooters,’’ said Wollongong City Acting Lord Mayor, Councillor Tania Brown.

“It also might raise the eyebrows of others who may have alternative views on e-bikes and e-scooters. We are very mindful that any successful provider will need to consider both the needs of our community, as well as visitors to the city.

“We’re not announcing today that you’ll see shared e-scooters on our streets next month. We’re putting it out there that we’re keen to hear from e-scooter providers about what they might offer Wollongong.

“We’re being proactive so that if the NSW Government updates the legislation to allow shared e-scooters, and if we’re given permission by Transport for NSW to participate in a trial, we’ve already done our due diligence, are on the front foot and ready to consider what such a trial might look like in our city,” she said.

Cr Brown said Transport for NSW were looking at a range of measures to support the shared e-scooter trial including limiting the age of use to 16 years and above, making helmets compulsory and limiting the speed of travel to 20km/h on bicycle paths/lanes and roads and 10 km/h on shared paths.

“The trial information makes it clear they’re looking for Councils and providers who can demonstrate their e-scooters can be easily integrated into existing bicycle riding infrastructure, can be used to facilitate a variety of trips and be a viable transport choice for customers,’’ said Cr Brown.

“All of these are very exciting and interesting opportunities for our city given the always-improving integration between our bicycle infrastructure and the linkages between our CBD and foreshore.’’

The EOI for the Wollongong Shared Micromobility Scheme will open this week through Council’s e-tendering portal.

Council says it’s hoped the scheme will be up and running by September.

Visit Transport for NSW for more information on the e-scooter trial.

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