27 Feb 2019

Decision looms on return of Lime e-scooters to Dunedin streets

3:10 pm on 27 February 2019

A decision on Lime scooters' return to Dunedin streets is expected in the coming days.

Rack 'em up: Lime scooters for hire outside the TraffiNZ conference on Wellington's waterfront this week - as part of a charm offensive in the capital.

Rack 'em up: Lime scooters for hire outside the TraffiNZ conference in wellington this week - as part of a charm offensive in the capital. Photo: PHOTO / RNZ Colin Peacock

Dunedin City Council requested the e-scooters be withdrawn from the city's streets - as they were in Auckland - after an issue causing the brakes to lock was identified.

Council spokesperson Simon Pickford told RNZ the fault caused eight incidents of "riders having their brakes lock up and them coming off and one case of broken bones".

"When I met with Lime last Friday the issues Auckland reported are happening here," he said.

The council said it took the matter seriously and did not want to see the scooters back on the streets until the fault had been fixed.

Lime contended the problem was solved with an update to its firmware but the council wanted the scooters to remain off the streets until that was independently verified, Mr Pickford said.

A report from Exponent, a Californian engineering and scientific consultancy firm, was due on the fault.

"We are all waiting to see what comes out of that," Mr Pickford said.

"That should be out today or tomorrow."

A spokesperson for Lime said the date for the scooters return to the city's streets was yet to be confirmed.

"[Dunedin] City Council actually requested we pause operations to gather additional information, we are confident in the safety of our service," the spokesperson said.

"We apologise to our riders and the Dunedin community for this issue and the disruption in service. We remain committed to being a safe and reliable last mile solution and are confident that once we provide additional information to the city council in the coming days, we will be back on the streets of Dunedin soon."

Mr Pickford said once the report was available a decision on the next steps would be made.

But it was unlikely to be the end of the matter with a report detailing the council's options for regulating the scooters to be presented to councillors next month.

That report would detail how the introduction of the e-scooters had gone in the city so far and would present options ranging from by-laws and regulation through to education, Mr Pickford said.

"It's more about where to for council and it may have implications for Lime down the line," he said.

"But it's more about how do we handle these dockless e-scooters."

The report might have implications for private e-scooter users and future firms in the city, but for Lime it "won't mean from that day they won't be able to trade".

The report would go to council on 26 March.

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