Scooting around

Photo credit: A man riding a hire scooter without a helmet in the CBD.Credit:Luis Ascui The Age January 6, 2023

Micro-mobility is contentious because e-scooters can be threatening to pedestrians. It is claimed that using e-scooters is a replacement for short car trips and therefore environmentally sound. But these claims are generally made by scooter hire companies who stand to profit from e-scooter use. There is a trial in Melbourne. Is there any unbiased research on the usage and benefits and disadvantages?

Well – yes, there is research on the usage and benefits and disadvantages of e-scooters and micro-mobility in general. However, the findings can vary depending on the study and the context in which e-scooters are used. Some studies have shown that e-scooters can lead to reductions in car trips and emissions, while others have found that e-scooters may increase pedestrian-vehicle conflicts. The results of the trial in Melbourne may provide further insights into the effects of e-scooters in a specific context.

Here are some of the general findings from research on the usage and benefits and disadvantages of e-scooters and micro-mobility:

  • Environmental benefits: Some studies have shown that e-scooters can lead to reductions in car trips and emissions, particularly for short trips.
  • Accessibility: E-scooters can improve mobility options for people who cannot or prefer not to drive, including those who are elderly, disabled, or low-income.
  • Safety: There is concern that e-scooters can pose a threat to pedestrians, cyclists, and other road users, particularly in densely populated areas. Some studies have reported high rates of e-scooter-related injuries and accidents.
  • Congestion: E-scooters can contribute to increased sidewalk and street congestion in densely populated areas, leading to conflicts between pedestrians and riders.
  • Equity: Access to e-scooters can be limited for certain populations, such as those who do not have access to a credit card or smartphone.

A few academic studies that have looked at various aspects of e-scooters and micro-mobility are:

  • “Electric Scooters and Bikesharing: Impacts on Public Transit Use and Physical Activity.” (2020) by M. Shaheen, C. Cohen, R. Jones, and L. Banister. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, volume 137.
  • “Electric Scooters and Public Space: Understanding User Experiences and Perceptions.” (2020) by K. Blanke, M. Rosales, and A. Manaugh. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, volume 142.
  • “The Environmental and Health Impacts of E-Scooters: A Review.” (2020) by E. Moretti, S. Mandaville, K. Froehlich, and M. Jerrett. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, volume 83.
  • “The Impacts of Electric Scooters on Physical Activity, Health, and Safety.” (2021) by B.A. Baumeister and K. Brien. Journal of Transport & Health, volume 19.

These studies provide a good starting point for exploring some of the benefits and drawbacks of e-scooters and micro-mobility, but there is much more research being done in this field, and the findings are constantly evolving.

These findings suggest that the impact of e-scooters and micro-mobility is complex and context-dependent. So it’s important to consider the potential benefits and drawbacks in a comprehensive and nuanced manner, and consider various aspects such as safety, accessibility, and actual rather than perceived sustainability.

A personal perspective from the editor.

Being a recent immigrant into the area that may well be termed “scooter central” – Southbank along the Yarra River Melbourne – and looking out my apartment window, and in the surrounding streets and shared paths along the river, I’ll give a non-academic perspective. It’s not based on surveys or rigorous double-blind testing, but simply personal observation.

It’s my view that e-scooters are principally for people to have fun on. They ‘double-dink, helmets seem optional, the rule about not riding on footpaths it totally ignored, and they simply get discarded like McDonald’s wrappers when the fun had been had. Their mothers never insisted on them putting things away in an orderly way when you finish using something!

Sure, some do get used for commuting. A recent Bicycle Network count done on one city entrance from7am – 10am on a Tuesday, recorded 319 cyclists and 26 scooters. Probably almost all were commuters, and all were acting in an orderly way. But visual observation along the river path – particularly or a weekend, and it’s hundreds of ‘fun trips’ and not an office-backpack or briefcase in sight.

In summary

Let’s hope those evaluating the Melbourne trial are not too swayed by the commercial operators data, and get on the streets themselves and observe the actual behaviours as well as all the academic research.

Posted in Active transport | 2 Comments

Over 50’s Expo for e-bikes and trikes

There’s no need to register or book beforehand. Just come along,and register when you arrive*

Local enthusiasts who already ride non-standard two and three wheel bikes will be there to chat with you and let you see what’s available. And we’ll have bikes and trikes for you to test ride too.

PLUS look for the Special Offers.

E-bike specialists Sparque will have information about a range of packages to buy, salary package, lease or even rent for a month to really try out your new bike. AND a special try-before-you buy offer.

The local branch of 99 Bikes – one of Australia’s largest bike stores – are terrific advocates for e-bikes. They will be there with some bikes to try and to give advice.

Local specialist e-bike suppliers REV-Bikes will be there too with some bikes you may not have seen before

For instance you might not be familiar with this type of recumbent bike, let alone had a chance to see one in action. It’s like riding in an armchair!

You’ll be surprised at what’s available to help older folk who want to keep active but are a little unsure how to do this safely and in a way which meets their changing physical needs.

And there is academic research to supports the use of e-trikes and e-bikes as a way to help older people stay active. For example:

  1. A study published in the Journal of Transport & Health found that e-bikes can increase physical activity levels in older adults, particularly among those who are less physically active.
  2. A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that e-bikes can have positive effects on older adults’ physical fitness and well-being, and can promote healthy aging.
  3. A systematic review published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research concluded that e-bikes have the potential to increase physical activity and reduce the risk of chronic disease in older adults.
  4. A study published in the journal “Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment” found that e-bikes can increase the level of physical activity among older adults and improve their mobility and independence.
  5. A study published in the “Journal of Transport and Health” found that e-bikes are a viable alternative mode of transportation for older adults, and can help to increase physical activity levels and improve quality of life.
  6. Another study published in the “International Journal of Sustainable Transportation” found that e-bikes can provide older adults with a more accessible and convenient form of transportation, which can lead to increased physical activity levels and improved health outcomes.
  7. Science Direct reported on “Physical activity of electric bicycle users compared to conventional bicycle users and non-cyclists” The study showed that •E-bikers take longer trips by e-bike and bicycle, compared to cyclists, •Physical activity gains from active travel are similar in e-bikers and cyclists.•Substituting all car trips with e-bike use leads to a g big gain in metabolic activity.• Transport modes substituted by the e-bike are still used frequently afterwards
  8. These studies suggest that e-bikes and e-trikes can be beneficial for older adults in Australia and provide evidence that supports their use as a way to help older people stay active. However, it is important to consider the specific needs and abilities of each individual before deciding to use an e-bike or e-trike, and to ensure that proper training and support are received for safe use.
    As a starting point. come to the EXPO!!

It’s important to note that while these studies suggest that e-trikes and e-bikes can be beneficial for older adults, more research is needed to fully understand their impact on this population and to identify best practices for safe and effective use.

This event is being run by WATAG in conjunction with Whitehorse City Council with support from bike suppliers, and local enthusiasts.

Note the date in your diary now and we’ll see you there!

(*We’ll need you to register your details so you can try out some of the bikes and trikes for yourself.)

Posted in Active transport | 1 Comment

Don’t just get on your bike – stay on it.

Have you or friends said “I used to ride but my balance isn’t what it used to be”? Or “I haven’t the strength to ride up hills any more” or maybe “I like riding with the group but I can’t keep up and it’s embarrassing.”  

Here’s a way to keep upright.

You’ve certainly heard about e-bikes, but what about e-trikes?

Many factors lead to a person giving up on  the life-long enjoyment of riding for errands or social activities.  Older people or those with limited mobility often progress to an electric mobility scooter without being aware of alternatives. A lifelong cyclist may well appreciate riding an e-trike so they can continue to be active while having all the advantages of a mobility scooter. Trikes were once shunned because of stability problems when cornering. But a new addition on the market of a luxury tilting e-trike from Kwolity, changes all that. You might say “it puts a new tilt on things”!

In March 2023 WATAG is planning a community event – an e-bike and e-trike Expo – to demonstrate practical alternatives for maintaining active transport for people not comfortable on two wheels or who have reduced power to cycle or reduced ability to walk.

People with reduced mobility or those who are less confident or comfortable on only two wheels may find a solution among the vehicles we aim to display.  We plan to display eBikes, e-Trikes, Tilting e-Trike and Recumbent Trikes and to enable you to test ride these.

Watch for details in the next edition of Eastsider News in February, and look for updates  at WATAG website . While you are there, register as a ‘subscriber’ so you get notification when WATAG’s bi-monthly newsletter is published.

Posted in Active transport | Leave a comment

Latest WATAG Newsletter

Click here for Active Whitehorse News December 2022

Posted in Active transport | Leave a comment

A great place to be

A reflection by Chris Trueman

Lord Howe Island: Image credit: Chris Trueman

Lord Howe Island was one of the earliest Australian natural places listed as a World Heritage Site – in 1982 just after the Great Barrier Reef. If you’ve never visited, put it on your bucket list. I’ve just returned from my 4th visit! They prioritise environment over development on Lord Howe Island. It’s a tiny island – about 10km long by 1km wide and less that 20% is for living purposes for the 400 permanent residents and the 400 visitors allowed at any one time. The rest is protected park or adjacent bushland. There are very few cars, speed limit is 25km/hr and most journeys are by bike or foot.

A “great place to be” – almost nirvana!

Are there some lessons for us who are destined to live out our lives in cities and suburbia?

There’s lots of evidence that walking and cycling is good for our health refer:Active Transport News Oct. 2022. It’s certainly good for the environment because every km walked or cycled is generally replacing a carbon-fuelled km. And it’s good for our local living environments when we can reclaim the streets for use by people rather than cars.

Let’s all agitate state and local governments to help make our streets “a great place to be” too, Don’t just leave it to the so-called ‘advocates’ – your views matter to those in power because you elect them!

But that’s not the end of this little story.

Many will have been subjected to the inconvenience of air travel with lost luggage or cancelled flights. On my way back to Melbourne I was too, and was stranded at Sydney airport for an afternoon. Fortunately a quick look at good old Google Maps showed that a walk of only a km or so led to a big park I’d never visited – Sydney Park.

Image Credit: Sydney Park web image

There are wetlands crowded with birds – it’s a major street drainage water purification project to protect the water’s headed for Botany Bay, and also to water the extensive native bush planting on the several hills and along the many walking paths. There is a major share walking/bike route through the park too.  But it’s the big brick chimneys along the western boundary that are the give-way. They are a historic reminder left over from the Hoffman kilns that made bricks to build Sydney town in years past. The park was in fact a quarry which has been refilled as a tip, and even heaped up into hills, and now revegetated to make it “a great place to be”.

We have a superb example of such a transformation here in Whitehorse at Yarran Dheran. I can remember it as a terrible tip site. I often visit there today to see if I can catch a glimpse of the platypus that are claimed to inhabit the Mullum Mullum Creek there.

Image Credit:

But we also have another site far more similar to Sydney Park. The Federation Brickworks site has been filled and is just waiting for Whitehorse Council (and possibly the State Government) to show the kind of vision expressed in the Councils Vision 2040 statement and make that another “great place to be”

It will need vision to deal with the historic brickworks like they have in Sydney or as has been done with Melbourne’s Hoffman kilns in Brunswick where there are smart apartments built inside the old kilns (read: Live inside a kiln). In Europe they repurpose buildings like these into museums, galleries, restaurants, and vibrant office spaces and similar visionary places.

Can’t you just imagine a fabulous botanic park, arts and cafe precinct here to make a truly “great place to be” in Box Hill?

What’s not needed is the “classic example of ‘demolition by neglect’, (where) two important heritage buildings on the Hoffman’s Brickworks site in Brunswick have been lost because the developer allowed them to decay to the point where they became unsafe” (Royal Historic Society of Victoria).

We can do better than that in Whitehorse!

Image Credits: Sydney Park web image

Sydney Park also has wonderful areas specifically for a children’s playground and also a youngsters cycling track.

Plus it has a design-award-winning skate park that would terrify most parents, and totally delight most teenagers! There were hundreds of young people there having a total ball.

But…it was sobering to walk a hundred metres further – to the well curated Alan Davidson oval and pavilion. This equally expensive facility for occasional formal sport use had about 30 people enjoying the wide acres – 2 teams of 11 plus half a dozen onlookers.

It made me wonder about whether the Whitehorse Council plan to build yet another formal sports ground and pavilion at Davey Lane was a good idea.

Wouldn’t a visionary award-winning skate park and children’s cycle track make Davey lane a truly “great place to be?

Posted in Active transport, Children, Cycling, Health, Walking | Tagged , | 1 Comment