Love them or hate them, eScooters are increasingly becoming part of the transport landscape. As their numbers increase, the police, governments and local councils struggle to come to grips with their presence in public places through limiting their power and speed, sanctioned trials within designated areas, and outright bans; trying to regulate an industry where the use and build quality of the machines is largely unregulated.
Many folks who regularly use shared trails either as a walker or bike rider may have stories to tell about scooters being ridden in a dangerous manner, such as speeding and weaving around pedestrians, by riders not wearing helmets. Recently whilst out bike riding along a shared trail, your REV reporter was pleasantly surprised to see an eScooter rider wearing a helmet and other protective gear, riding along at a reasonable speed and being courteous to the surrounding pedestrians! Unfortunately this is often not the case among many eScooter riders (and some bike riders, to be fair.)
Although freely available for sale, existing regulations mean that many riders are using their scooters illegally, such as riding at inappropriate speeds, riding in appropriate locations such as on footpaths and roads, riding without wearing a helmet and so on, but that’s another story for another day. For our part at REV, we have decided not to sell or service eScooters.
A few brief forays into what was supposed to be fairly straight forward servicing such as changing tyre tubes (an absolute nightmare due to poor wheel design of the particular scooter!), has demonstrated that the amount of time and difficulty in servicing eScooters, together with the challenge of obtaining parts for the wide range of brands available, is not viable for us. We also see other issues which discourage us from getting involved in the eScooter industry.
Some problems we see include a lack of regulation in the eScooter industry regarding build quality of the many brands available. Quality ranges from good to poor, including the downright dangerous, especially regarding the ever-present danger of battery fires in poorly manufactured scooters, of which there are many among cheap imports.
As heard in the media from time to time regarding scooter fires, some users don’t charge their batteries properly, often by overcharging them or using the incorrect charger. Unfortunately a number of scooters and their batteries contain electronics that are poor in providing protection from overcharging.
Whilst Lithium batteries in general can catch fire if physically damaged, the poor build quality of many scooter batteries presents what we regard as an unacceptable risk.
At REV, part of our ethos is to encourage people to exercise through riding. eBikes are fantastic as a general means of bike transport, but especially helpful to those riders who for various reasons, may not be physically able to ride a regular bike. Such riders are able to maintain fitness with electrically assisted riding, as they still have to pedal! As eScooters are ridden mainly with the use of a throttle, they provide little opportunity for meaningful exercise.
It is also of concern that due to eScooters low proximity to the ground, they can be unsettling on rough and uneven terrain and are relatively easy to fall from… not something we wish for our customers!
Here at REV, we have decided not to jump on board the eScooter train, but to stick to what we know best – providing great sales, conversions and servicing of eBikes!
For the current regulations about using eScooters in Victoria, see VicRoads article “What is a legal e-scooter?”