14 Feb 2019

Wellington to get six-month e-scooter trial

8:08 pm on 14 February 2019

E-scooters will soon be gliding around Wellington streets, after the City Council voted in favour of a trial for two companies.


Photo: 123RF

However, the process has left city councillors frustrated at the lack of regulations from central government.

They voted eight-to-five today in favour of allowing the scooters but there was an extensive list of amendments attached.

These included multiple restrictions such as disallowing the use of the vehicles on the footpath on many major CBD streets, and a ban on their use in Cuba Mall and all Botanic gardens.

The six-month trial - slated to start next month - will allow up to 800 e-scooters to be rolled out across the city from two companies that are yet to be decided.

Council spokesman Dave Williams said six companies have approached the council to operate scooters - Lime, Onzo, Blip, Future, Scoot and Wellington company Flamingo.

Councillor Sarah Free called the process "creating policy on the hoof," and councillor Diane Calvert called on the government to take leadership on regulating e-scooters nation-wide.

"It's a waste of public funds with all these individual councils [working on regulations]. Government needs to step up through their transport agency NZTA and not wait for councils to waste ratepayers money," she said.

Youth Council members spoke in support of the scooters, saying they gave young people another valuable transport option.

Objections were raised by public submitters and councillors to the safety of e-scooters on footpaths, particularly for disabled pedestrians and mobility scooter users.

Mayor Justin Lester said the controlled introduction gave more power over how the scooters were introduced in the city.

"The trial will test the demand for e-scooters, how they fit in the context of Wellington, and rider behaviour," he said.

Portfolio leader for transport strategy, councillor Chris Calvi-Freeman, emphasised the period was a trial.

"One has to be brave enough to say 'let's trial something and see what happens."

"I expect to see officers monitor usage and how the providers would educate their users."

The scooter operators will be able to track where the scooters go and can set electronic boundaries that halt the scooters if they go past a boundary.

And the companies will contribute $10,000 to a public safety awareness campaign in partnership with council.

The introduction of the vehicles elsewhere in New Zealand has caused controversy. Since Lime Scooters launched in October there have been at least 300 Accident Compensation Corporation claims made by people injured riding them.

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