Auckland Council lifts temporary suspension of Lime scooters

9:48 pm on 1 March 2019

Lime e-scooters could be back on Auckland's streets tomorrow, after the council lifted its suspension over a software defect.

Lime e-scooters

Lime e-scooters Photo: Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

The lifting of suspension could usher in another wave of e-scooters from other companies who want to launch their own in the coming weeks.

"We've made the decision to lift Lime's suspension," said Auckland Council chief operating officer Dean Kimpton.

However, as part of Lime's conditions, it must report within 24 hours every single serious or significant incident that happens in Auckland on their product, and within 48 hours any issue elsewhere in the country or the world.

In addition, every e-scooter must be mechanically inspected every week, and those reports have to be available to the council on request.

Auckland Council has received written confirmation this evening from the company that it will meet its conditions.

The scooters have been packed in a warehouse in Kingsland for a week, after the council suspended them because of a software problem.

The glitch caused the wheels to lock up unexpectedly, which in some cases threw people over the handlebars, and injured them.

There were 155 reported incidents nationwide, including 30 injures. Auckland Council weren't told about the issue by the company until after they had found out from media reports.

"I've spoken directly with Lime regarding our disappointment that these safety issues came to our attention through the media, and expressed our concern that that was not good enough," Mr Kimpton said.

"We don't know what we don't know, and we expect to be told when these issues occur."

They were also taken off the streets in Dunedin, but Christchurch yesterday expanded its fleet by 300 scooters to a total of 1000.

Lime is still in a trial period, and is pushing for a longer term or permanent licence.

Mr Kimpton wouldn't be drawn on whether these issues, or the slow reporting of problems, would be considered in their long-term application.

Both Lime, and a third-party examiner, has assured the council the bug has been fixed.

Other e-scooter companies have been waiting in the wings and watching how this episode has unfolded.

Mr Kimpton said companies have spoken to the council and indicated they could launch in the next few weeks.

Aucklander Fooz Al-Hilli said that was just the risk riders took.

"If you're going on a motorised vehicle with two wheels on a thin plank of metal, with nothing but a stick and handlebars to protect yourself, there's a reasonable chance you might mess up and hurt yourself," he said.

"If the software and hardware are working fine and you mess up, that's on you."

Others are just happy to have them back, like Rohit Nair - even if it just means less effort than using the Onzo push bikes.

"With Onzo you have to be physically fit to ride the bicycle, but Lime scooters, you can just take it where you want," Mr Nair said.

"I'm pretty happy, I used to use them a lot."

Meanwhile, Lime scooters could also return to Dunedin streets for the weekend.

The Dunedin City Council asked for the e-scooters be withdrawn from the city's streets - as they were in Auckland - after a problem causing the brakes to lock.

Council spokesperson Simon Pickford says Dunedin plans to follow Auckland's lead.

He said Lime representatives had agreed verbally to the conditions.

Mr Pickford said as soon as there was written confirmation, Lime scooters would be back on Dunedin streets.

It's expected that will be early tomorrow morning.

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