Shire of Augusta-Margaret River Bird scooter trial under fire over questionable claims

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
The new Bird scooters have been causing a stir in Margaret River.
Camera IconThe new Bird scooters have been causing a stir in Margaret River. Credit: Warren Hately/Augusta-Margaret R/Augusta-Margaret River Times

Margaret River residents have heaped scorn on the idea that the new 12-month Bird scooter trial is for “adults only”.

The Shire of Augusta-Margaret River-backed initiative, which has brought about 200 e-scooters and some electric bicycles to Margaret River and neighbouring townships, has already come under fire over the number of abandoned scooters since the Bird scheme started earlier this month.

Residents have also complained talk about safety and the e-vehicles being for adults only didn’t match up with teenagers forgoing helmets and hooning around on the scooters before leaving them “wherever”.

The Times last week reported international operators Bird have a local team to collect and co-ordinate abandoned scooters — despite other operators boasting a built-in design to encourage scooters are returned — but residents, including those with disabilities, said the trial wasn’t up to scratch.

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The shire also drew some ire by posting about the adults-only nature of the trial on social media.

A Bird spokesperson defended the policies and measures in place to guarantee riders were 18 and wore helmets.

“Bird takes safety extremely seriously,” the spokesperson said.

“Our policies strictly prohibit anyone under the age of 18 from riding a scooter in Australia and everyone is required to wear a helmet.

“Before beginning a ride, the rider must either rent the helmet provided or take a selfie confirming they are wearing their own helmet.”

The company did not explain how those measures could be circumvented or enforced. Answers to questions about how vehicles were retrieved and serviced were not available before deadline.

Shire planning and regulatory services manager Matt Cuthbert said officers were “actively monitoring whether scooters are being used responsibly in collaboration with WA Police to help determine if e-devices will be considered as a permanent arrangement”.

“The WA road rules require electric scooter riders to be 16 years of age and over,” he said.

“Bird, however, prefer to limit use to people over the age of 18.

“This is not a shire requirement and the workability of this limitation is a matter for the operator.”

Residents have swapped war stories on social media about their scooter encounters.

“Never seen adults on them, only kids with no helmets,” Hilary Head said.

“Safer without them. Wait until someone gets seriously hurt or killed. People think this won’t happen here.”

Others said the scooters offered few financial benefits to the region and detracted from the amenity and walkability of the redeveloped main street.

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