OPINION: Don’t miss bus on new modes of travel

In Amsterdam’s centre, it’s easier to get around on foot, bike or scooter than in a car.

And in Paris, youths zip around on electric scooters.

While cars rule Adelaide’s streets followed by pedestrians and bike riders, streets in Europe and cities such as Singapore are exploding with new forms of transport which are reducing traffic jams and making transport fun.

Outside Amsterdam Central, where ferries pull up to a train station and bikes, pedestrians and mopeds crisscross a small area, what looks like chaos is working well.

There are 10 times fewer accidents happening in this tightly packed zone since Amsterdam Council made the bold move to remove give-way rules, leaving it up to individuals to sort things out themselves.

In Paris, electric bikes and scooters are exploding in popularity and, while bike lanes aren’t plentiful, bike riders can travel in bus lanes.

With our flat streets and friendly weather, Adelaide is perfectly poised to join the transport revolution.

Yet rules and regulations are holding us back.

Under South Australian law, self-balancing hoverboards and scooters, segways, electric skateboards and electric scooters are banned from everywhere but private property. Roads, footpaths and even bike tracks are out of bounds.

Even if the rules were changed and these modes of transport became legal, no doubt numerous conditions would be imposed such as seatbelts, helmets, safety vests, indicators and brake lights.

While Adelaide’s love affair with cars is set to continue — after all, many of us devote an entire room under our main roofs for our vehicles — getting more people off the roads and into other forms of transport, freeing up congestion, has to be a good thing.

Earlier this year, the State Government announced a transport review and declared nothing would be off the table.

In Europe, many people who have never taken a bike or scooter to work before are now hopping on electric equivalents, arriving to work sweat-free, energised and often quicker than by car. And despite the fact these cities are ancient, they feel youthful and modern as this new way of getting around brings vibrancy and an element of carefree fun that bumper-to-bumper traffic can’t compete with.

Amsterdam and Paris are busy cities — much busier than Adelaide — yet in tighter streets and much smaller spaces they cater for a huge range of transport options and make it work.

The time has arrived for us to get a move on, embrace the transport revolution and open our eyes to new ways of getting around.

Originally published in The Advertiser 19 November 2018.

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