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Independence questions as e-scooter hire firms collect crash data, not Brisbane City Council

Independence questions as e-scooter hire firms collect crash data, not Brisbane City Council

10 November, 2021

Neither Brisbane City Council nor the state government collect independent data on e-scooter crashes, instead relying on e-scooter hire companies and emergency services records.

Nearly three years after e-scooters arrived in Queensland, this data gap is sparking concern that critical information about e-scooter usage is not being tracked in a single location.

Mobility companies Beam and Neuron recently won three-year contracts with Brisbane City Council to operate 1,000 e-scooters and 400 e-bikes each.

Under their contract terms, the companies must report crashes and incidents to council.

However, that data does not include private e-scooter use, which has boomed in Brisbane since e-scooters first arrived in 2018.

E-scooters are mostly limited to footpaths and bikeways, and can only use some quieter suburban streets with 50km/h speed limits.

Data-sharing delays

Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner on Thursday said data-sharing arrangements should be in place so council does not have to manually request police or Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) crash data.

"It would be good to have a data-sharing arrangement in place in this respect," Cr Schrinner said. "That would be useful.

"These things take a bit of time to get up and running, but I think it's better for all of us if all agencies are sharing their data."

Greens MP Michael Berkman wrote to council and the state government in August, asking for e-scooter crash data.

The council referred him to TMR and then TMR referred him back to the BCC.

"If it wasn't such a serious issue, I'd find it funny that both the state government and council deferred to each other when I requested e-scooter crash data," Mr Berkman said.

"If no one is collecting this data, we can't make properly informed decisions about regulating this relatively new transportation, and making it safer for everyone."

A TMR spokesperson said in a statement that the department was unable to provide data on e-scooter incidents.

"A road traffic crash, for the purpose of the RoadCrash database and reporting, is a crash reported to the Queensland Police, resulting from the movement of at least one road vehicle on a public road or road related area and resulted in a person being killed or injured.

E-scooters, for the purpose of the RoadCrash database and reporting, are captured as the unit type 'wheeled recreational device', which also covers people operating such devices as roller skates/blades, child's tricycle, skateboard, luge, scooter, Segway and so forth.

They would be included in the database when involved in crashes meeting the criteria set out in the definition above, however, they do not have a specific identifier from other types of wheeled recreational devices."

– Department of Transport and Main Roads

A QPS spokesman said police would only track incidents involving personal mobility devices or pedestrians "where a response or investigation is required due to the nature or severity of what occurred".

Injury tracking

Beam spokeswoman Michelle Leong said the company had a suite of sophisticated monitoring technology and that it reported crash and incident data to the council on a weekly basis, as required.

"We provide crash data, and a range of other trip data to councils, as we believe they are useful in helping understand how e-mobility is used and how to plan the future of infrastructure and transport," Ms Leong said.

A Neuron spokesperson said that, nationally, the company recorded less than two incidents requiring hospitalisation per 100,000 kilometres travelled.

"Safety is a top priority for Neuron. We record and analyse incidents in all of our cities so we can further improve our e-scooters, the way we operate them and, also, how we can educate our riders to travel in the safest possible way," the spokesperson said.

Earlier this year, Metro North Health's Jamieson Trauma Institute released data showing that 797 e-mobility-related emergency department presentations were recorded at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, the Princess Alexandra and the Mater hospitals between November 2018 and May 2020.

Of those presentations, 92 per cent were from e-scooters and, of those presentations, 85 per cent involved hire e-scooters.

Almost one in five presentations required hospital admission, with upper limb fractures and head injuries most common.