Lime e-scooters: Genius idea or public nuisance?

From Checkpoint, 5:28 pm on 25 October 2018

An Auckland councillor is warning someone could be killed by new electric scooters hooning around the city - unless rules are introduced.

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Three companies are vying to introduce 2500 electric scooters each in New Zealand. Photo: RNZ/ Nick Monro

Hundreds of Lime e-scooters were rolled out in Christchurch and Auckland last week and have caused multiple injuries.

ACC has received nine complaints of injuries in Auckland and four in Christchurch.

Councillor Christine Fletcher was on her way to the Town Hall in Auckland this morning when an e-scooter came flying towards her at a pedestrian crossing

"A motorised scooter came whooshing down on the road and then across the pedestrian crossing and nearly took me out - fortunately I jumped aside and all was well."

Ms Fletcher raised the issue at the council meeting she was enroute to - and a review with Auckland Transport is now underway into creating better safety regulations for the scooters.

"I do not wish to be a killjoy - I think that this technology is really exciting for Auckland, but we do need to have some protocols around safety that will protect everybody," she said.

"If they're going to be on footpaths, I would like to see that they don't go at speeds of more than five kilometres an hour."

Ms Fletcher said someone could be killed unless action was taken.

"When someone does get killed there will be a huge witch-hunt as to how this happened.

"I would like to feel like we can actually have the research beforehand and ensure that we have got the safest way in which we can introduce them for everyone's benefit."

Watch Nita-Blake Persen's full video report on e-scooters here:

Auckland man Wayne King also had a close call with an e-scooter.

He was walking down Queen Street when a rider came flying towards him at what he estimates was close to 30km/h.

"He sort of went right through my legs, which considering the height of the handle bars could have been a lot more damaging than it actually was."

Mr King said the scooter was travelling far too fast to be on the pavement.

Lime rolled out 600 e-scooters in Auckland and 400 in Christchurch as part of a three month trial in New Zealand.

Lime is not the the only company eyeing up New Zealand as an e-scooter destination.

On 29 October, Wave Scooters will launch 500 e-scooters, and on 10 November, Onzo will launch another 1000.

All three companies have requested permission to eventually roll out 2500 scooters each, but that has yet to be approved by Auckland Council, which is waiting to see how the trial period goes.

Lime's New Zealand launcher Hank Rowe said there had been more than 40,000 e-scooter rides in Auckland and Christchurch since they launched.

He said safety remained the company's number one priority and they were open to reviewing safety rules to keep users and pedestrians safe.

"If you're riding on the road, 27 kilometres feels slow. If you're riding on the footpath, it may be too fast," Mr Rowe said.

"At this point the NZTA has given the notion that we are able to operate without helmets... that process may change and we are open to that process and want to be part of that."

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said technology had moved ahead of consideration of safety issues, but the council did not want to stop e-scooters being used entirely.

"We think they're a good thing, but we do want to make sure we're taking sensible steps to keep people safe."

Mr Goff said he had asked the council to work with Auckland Transport and central government to look at safety options around the scooters.