Has the horse been put before the cart?
Beam Mobility’s expected to launch its fleet of e-scooters, on a two-year trial, within the next month — part of the trial’s aim’s to see if the infrastructure’s suitable for the emerging transport mode, which Queenstown’s council thinks could help with traffic congestion.
But Queenstown Trails Trust boss Mark ‘Willy’ Williams says before micromobility options are introduced to Queenstown, the resort’s infrastructure needs to be able to handle them.
He believes e-scooters can be a great way of getting people around, and kick-starting a ‘‘mode-shift’’ here, but doesn’t believe the facilities exist yet to allow that change.
Beam says its scooters have been tried and tested on Frankton trails and will run from the far edge of Sunshine Bay and Fernhill to Frankton.
But Williams notes e-scooters ‘‘are most at home on commuter links and sealed pathways’’ and says he’d rather see them used on purpose-built networks than parts of the Queenstown Trail, popular with runners, walkers and cyclists.
Williams wants to ensure the use and enjoyment of recreational networks aren’t diminished, and while micromobility may be something that becomes relevant in the future, he thinks until the right infrastructure’s in place, it may be too soon.
‘Appropriate’ infrastructure for e-scooters is meant to come with the Whakatipu Active Travel project, connecting key places all the way from
Arrowtown to Arthurs Point, Lake Hayes Estate, Frankton and Jack’s Point.
But there’s little physical progress on that so far.
Williams says people are ready to adopt the mode-shift, and we’re on the ‘‘cusp of something cool … but until we develop the facilities to enable it, it’s unlikely people will change their behaviour’’.