E-scooters in the lime-light - even more
Since writing earlier in the week about the appearance of Lime’s e-scooters in Auckland and Christchurch this month - there has been a flurry of news stories about the phenomenon and now the government’s had to put out it’s stance.
Transport Minister Phil Twyford has responded to a rising number of safety concerns and reports of injuries by saying “ There are some real benefits to e-scooters in that they offer a cheap, quick way to cover short distances and connect with public transport. We are always balancing the need for mobility with people’s safety and scooters are not different.”
He says part of the solution will be creating more space in our street for people walking, cycling and using low-powered vehicles like e-scooters and that the Government is already planning to invest $390 million over the next three years with councils to expand footpaths, shared paths and cycleways.
“The Government is also looking at whether we have the right level of regulation for low-powered vehicles. This include looking at potential speed limits and what vehicles should be allowed on the footpath. Councils already have the ability to make bylaws that control how footpaths are used. Many councils already regulate devices like skateboards and kick-scooters.”
For the uninitiated - Lime is the California based electric scooter brand which dropped 600 hundred of its dockless machines onto the streets of Auckland on Monday last week (15/10/18) and 400 in Christchurch. Users download the company app, linked to their credit or debit cards, to be able to rent the machines. The app also helps users locate the scooters.
The lime drop here saw New Zealand become the first Southern Hemisphere country to launch the scooters. “New Zealand has been a priority market for us for a long time,” said Hank Rowe, Lime’s NZ City Launcher. “The advantage of our e-scooters is that they work together with existing public transit options, allowing people to rely less on personal cars and helping to preserve the country’s world-renowned natural beauty.”
Lime says it worked closely with the NZTA to ensure safety concerns are addressed but that hasn’t stopped the worrying with the New Zealand Herald proclaiming “ Lime scooters causing safety concerns, “ just four days after the local launch. The report suggested the scooter riders are not only taking risks, but also scooter placement on footpaths could lead to injury.
The machines reach speeds up to 27 kilometers an hour and no rider I have seen has been using a helmet other than those seen on the company’s website so those concerns may well be justified.
The scooters are intended for riders aged over 18, with an 18+ sticker on each scooter but I can confirm this is not being adhered to - even in my own family.
The company does provide online advice and is believed to be the only micro mobility provider to offer safety and educational videos on its website instructing riders how to properly use and park electric scooters.
There’s no doubt phenomenon is a big talking point with the scooters proving hugely popular over the past, sunny, long weekend but only time will tell if they can live up to the hype, if the company can maintain the fleet and if users will find the scheme a real transport option or just a bit of fun.
The company tells us that over 50 operations specialists have been hired between Auckland and Christchurch as part of the company’s commitment to bring meaningful employment opportunities to all of its diverse markets.
Lime will also be using locally-contracted Juicers to pick up and charge the scooters overnight.