Why more Australian women are commuting on two wheels

More women are hiring electric scooters to zip around Australian cities, with research showing female riders are closing the gender gap on their male counterparts.

But the ways to appeal to female e-scooters riders appear to be different to male riders, as women prioritise safety features and well-maintained roads over higher speeds and dedicated lanes.

The findings come from a Neuron Mobility survey of more than 10,000 riders in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the UK designed to identify issues preventing their adoption and inform policymakers and urban planners.

The survey, released on Wednesday, found 41 per cent of Australian riders were female and 58 per cent identified as male.

Neuron Mobility Australia and New Zealand head Jayden Bryant said the number of women riding e-scooters was higher in Australia than it was globally and in countries such as the UK where women made up just 23 per cent of e-scooter renters.

‚ÄúThere is a common misconception that e-scooters are overwhelmingly ridden by men, however our research shows this isn‚Äôt the case, especially in Australia,‚ÄĚ he said.

‚ÄúOf all our markets, Australia has the smallest gender gap.‚ÄĚ

Women reported renting e-scooters for different reasons to men, with more using scooters for leisure (76 per cent of women compared to 69 per cent of men) and fewer using the two-wheeled devices for commuting, public transport and riding to appointments.

Female e-scooter riders named safety measures as important considerations, including integrated helmets and the ability to share ride information with friends. Men reported higher speeds, better braking and precise handling as important.

The survey showed most riders would like protected lanes in which to ride e-scooters but more women called for improvements to road safety.

‚ÄúThe research found that infrastructure played a big part in e-scooter adoption for all genders,‚ÄĚ Mr Bryant said.

‚ÄúHowever, women place particular importance on well-lit and well-maintained road and path surfaces.‚ÄĚ

Despite their growing popularity, significant differences in laws governing e-scooter use around Australia remain in place, with scooters not allowed on footpaths in Victoria, for example, but permitted with speed limits in Queensland, the ACT and Tasmania.

The use of privately owned e-scooters is banned in NSW, South Australia and the Northern Territory, though Victoria lifted its restriction in March as part of a six-month trial.

E-scooter rentals from Lime and Neuron Mobility were also extended in four Victorian council areas as part of the trial after earlier tests saw residents take 3.7 million scooter trips in Melbourne and 200,000 in Ballarat.

Victorian Road and Road Safety Minister Melissa Horne said strict regulations would remain in place for riders, including wearing a helmet and riding on roads with speed limits under 60km/h.

 

Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson
(Australian Associated Press)

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