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Blog Post

Transport Innovation Down Under

Micro-mobility Legislation and Innovation Sets-up an Exciting Year for Shared Mobility in Australia and New Zealand.

Marcus Miller
Oct 27, 2023

Micro-mobility Legislation and Innovation Sets-up an Exciting Year for Shared Mobility in Australia and New Zealand.

Australia and New Zealand are on the verge of a big year for shared micro-mobility and other improvements in sustainable infrastructure. Soon-to-be awarded tenders in major markets such as Melbourne, combined with innovative approaches to public space management and other exciting developments in the shared mobility space are laying the foundations for a pivotal year.

Legislation builds momentum in Australia

When e-scooters, and other personal mobility devices, emerged as a new way to get around Australian cities, they were not acknowledged in the model Australian Road Rules, which each state chooses to adopt or vary. Initially, the majority of e-scooter use was not law-abiding, unless legal provisions were made at the state level. This was the case in Queensland, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory where state-level regulations were quickly adopted to permit some usage. Popular e-scooter trials soon followed suit in cities including Brisbane, Canberra and Adelaide.

With usership continuing to grow and legislation fragmenting at the state level, the quest for national regulation was put into motion by the National Transport Commission. They recommended that Australian Road Rules should be updated to allow personal mobility devices to be used on footpaths and shared paths at a maximum speed of 10km/h, and on bicycle paths and local roads at a maximum speed of 25km/h. These rules were formally adopted in the Australian Road Rules in July 2021.

Currently, these model rules are gradually being reflected at state level. Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory have led the charge by already implementing key elements of the rules. With Tasmania and Western Australia set to adopt them before the end of the year, 2022 is looking like the year for micro-mobility to be (legally!) ubiquitous across Australia.

Australian cities are focused on the long term, and exploring the linkage between bikes and scooters

Unlike many trial processes elsewhere, which run for a single year, several of the shared micro-mobility tenders in Australia are for multiple years, such as Brisbane’s joint bike and scooter program. These long term tenders lay down the foundations for win-win outcomes for cities, operators and residents.

For operators, a long view gives them the certainty they need to properly invest in the schemes and the confidence to provide associated infrastructure, such as parking hubs. Similarly, long term tenders give cities the encouragement to invest in appropriate training, develop relevant policies and invest in best practices in mobility data management.

The multi-year agreements allow cities to understand travel patterns over a wide variety of conditions, and provide operators with room to experiment so that they find the optimal level of provision in each city. They provide an adequate time frame to perform more detailed analysis about the way that cycles and scooters may serve different use cases (or different riders) in Australian cities. It additionally means that users are much more likely to embed micro-mobility use into their daily routines.

The inclusion of multiple modes within the Brisbane trial could help pave the way for a much more integrated mobility-as-a-service transport systems across the region. This would allow users to access a complete suite of mobility forms including public transport, e-scooters, bikes, mopeds and car-sharing via one application, simplifying the shift away from private automobiles. Early steps towards achieving this fully-integrated vision have already been made, with a first of its kind mobility-as-a-service trial being completed in Sydney in March.

Unique land use and high car ownership offer a distinct, promising challenge

The key environmental promise of micro-mobility is to reduce Co2 emissions by offering an alternative, often in combination with public transport, to personal automobile trips. Here Australian and New Zealand cities pose a unique and exciting challenge.

Micro-mobility modal shift studies have typically found that the largest sustainability gains are in cities with the highest car dependency. New Zealand and Australia have the 3rd and 6th highest car-ownership rates globally, so there could be some quick modal shift wins.

Cities in Australia and New Zealand also offer a diverse set of land uses and population densities. Neither as dense and walkable as many European cities nor quite so car-dependent as most North American cities, the metropolitan areas of Australia and New Zealand present a special use case regarding the mode shift potential of new mobility options. This, coupled with a covid-driven appetite for active mobility, sets the stage for promising sustainability gains from introducing micro-mobility in the region.

E-scooter trials help cities prepare for greater changes in the transport landscape

Mobility innovation in Australia and New Zealand far from ends at the micro-mobility trials. Both countries are at the forefront of innovation in the smart mobility space. Driverless shuttle buses have already been tested in cities including Perth and Melbourne, whilst New Zealand is home to Ohmio, a cutting edge autonomous vehicle manufacturer. Australia also leads the world regarding commercial drone regulations, which could help the country cement its place as a world leader in this space.

As previously discussed, with transport disruption ongoing, e-scooter trials have proved to be an important learning process for city and state governments. The process of managing data, evaluating outcomes in a short timeline, and communicating to the public are all skills that need to be further refined before the explosion of new connected and autonomous vehicles arrive on the streets over the next decade.

Cities in Australia and New Zealand appear to be taking this mindset to heart by implementing plans that will facilitate the arrival of the next generation of connected vehicles. Auckland is a notable example. The city’s On-Demand & Shared Mobility Roadmap emphasises the importance of multi-stakeholder collaboration and the establishment of data sharing and reporting requirements.

With micro-mobility technology and associated mobility management platforms maturing, coupled with an increasingly favourable regulatory environment, Australia and New Zealand are in an outstanding position to reap the full benefits of micro-mobility in 2022.

About Vianova

Vianova is a data platform that helps cities and mobility providers better integrate and manage shared, connected, electric and autonomous transport solutions in the urban space, enabling better use of city infrastructure, and promoting safer and more sustainable mobility. Vianova has offices in Paris, Zürich and London.

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