Lime scooters returning to Auckland, Dunedin, but remain controversial

After being suddenly removed from Auckland and Dunedin streets a week ago Lime scooters are set to return to the streets and cycleways and footpaths.

ODT:  Lime scooters back next week after assurances

Lime e-scooters have been given the all-clear to return to Dunedin streets but fans may have to wait until next week for their next trip.

Lime voluntarily withdrew its e-scooters in Dunedin last week, hours after Auckland temporarily suspended the company’s licence to operate, citing concerns about random brake lock-ups causing injuries to riders.

Auckland Council also announced yesterday it would allow Lime to operate again, providing it meets certain conditions regarding reporting safety incidents and concerning scooter maintenance.

Representatives from Lime and the Dunedin City Council met yesterday to discuss the e-scooters’ return after their voluntary removal more than a week ago, due to safety concerns.

Council community services general manager Simon Pickford said Lime had agreed verbally to a set of five conditions and once they agreed in writing the council would be happy for the scooters to return.

Conditions included reporting any serious safety incidents, anywhere in the world, to the council within 48 hours, the weekly inspection of e-scooters used in Dunedin and more information about safety and rider behaviour.

“Once we have written confirmation that they agree to these conditions, Lime scooters will be back on Dunedin streets.”

When the Lime scooters first arrived inn Dunedin earlier this year they were welcomed by some as a revolutionary wave of green transport. I saw them parked and ridden around town, and saw no problems apart from them being parked in  some silly places – someone left one right outside the entrance to the building I work in one morning. That isn’t the scooter’s fault, it was an inconsiderate rider.

How much have they changed things? Apart from helping some people get around town and annoying some other people it’s hard to judge.

They seem to have been used by people for fun or as an alternative to walking. I have seen little sign of them replacing cars for commuting. I saw one guy ride one into a central city car park, get of fit and get in his big black SUV and drive away. There would be far more environmental good from reversing the shift to bigger vehicles often transporting just one person.

Apart from the technical problems and accidents I think the main problem has been the sudden change – 300 hundred scooters appeared literally overnight. Usage and acceptance takes time to adapt and evolve.

It’s impossible to judge their effect on traffic in Dunedin, because they were introduced here at a time of major seasonal change. They arrived at one of the quietest times of year, the January holidays.

At the end of January, early February there is always a big increase in traffic when schools start back. And that builds considerably through February as tertiary students return in force. In the last two weeks traffic has been at least as bad as I have seen it in central Dunedin.

Maybe a few hundred scooters will help, but I suspect the (minority) stupid use will keep being highlighted, some of the moaning about cyclists will divert to moaning about scooterists, the council will think about changing laws and redesigning everything yet again for a small number of road users, and life will adapt one way or another.

One (small) change I have noticed that I haven’t seen before – I have seen a few people riding their own scooters. If I used one I’d prefer my own to taking a Lime lottery.

Microscooters advertise two:

  • Emicro Falcon (compact) $1799.95, range 10 km, charge time 1 hour
  • Emicro Condor $1995.95, range 20 km, charge time 3 hours

If I used the Falcon to go to work I’d have to charge it during the day for the return trip. The Condor would make the distance on an overnight charge, but it probably woukldn’t make it up small but steep hill at my work end (not a major), and a large steep hill at my home end, going up about 100 metres. A harbour cycleway would be good too ride, but having to come across town and traffic (main street and state highway north and south included) would be a pain and hazardous (the cycleways only run north-south).

Blacksheeptrading have e-scooters as cheap as $950:

  • RIDE FASTER & TRAVEL FURTHER The Ninebot KickScooter by Segway (ES2) can go up to 25km/h and travel up to 25 km. Its rear shock absorption ensures a comfortable ride and the customizable ambient and rear lights are not only fun, but allow riders to be seen in low light.
  • LIGHTWEIGHT & FOLDABLE The one-click folding system allows this lightweight electric KickScooter to be carried on public transportation, stored in your car and more. It conveniently goes anywhere.

Related (ODT): Residents must adapt: Staynes

Dunedin’s one-way cycle lane network and subsequent changes to traffic and parking are things residents will have to adapt to, officials say.

The NZ Transport Agency and Dunedin City Council project was officially opened yesterday, on budget at $8million.

Other cycleway projects in Dunedin have gone way over budget. One redesigned intersection had to be reredesigned after it was found that fire engines coukldn’t negotiate it.

Dunedin deputy mayor Chris Staynes said whenever there was a perception the council was taking something away from motorists “we all get bombarded by unhappy people”.

He said people would have to adapt.

Adapt to more traffic delays and inconvenience so a few can ride more safely on some routes only?

This week the Otago Daily Times counted 90 cyclists using the lane running south on Castle near Dundas St in one hour between 7.50am and 8.50am, and 38 in the same time period travelling north towards Stuart St on Cumberland St.

From what I have seen usage has increased, from hardly any to a few, especially on Anzac Avenue which had all car parks over two blocks replaced with a painted cycleway on both sides.

A count of cyclists on the lanes this week showed they are being used, but NZTA regional relationships director Jim Harland said he would like to see more.

Mr Harland described that as a good start, but hoped it would get “a lot higher”.

The cycle lanes had only been built recently, and he hoped the numbers would increase.

After spending millions of dollars they ‘hope’ numbers will increase?

 

 

 

Lime scooter introduction has had mixed response

Since the introduction Lime scooters were launched in Dunedin 10 days ago there has been a lot of free publicity for a commercial enterprise, but not all of it has been good.

It is now common to see clutters of scooters cluttering footpaths in the mornings, but they get scattered during the day. Out and about yesterday there were quite a few being used.

There has been some stupidity. It only took a day for someone to try one down Baldwin Street – I didn’t see it explained how they got it up. The electric scooters don’t do well on hills. I saw someone having to push one up London Street (just off George Street) after giving up trying to power up. There’s a lot of hills in Dunedin, but there’s quite a bit of flat too, especially around the CBD and University and Polytech campuses.

There have been reports of a steady stream of injured riders going to the Emergency Department. This isn’t surprising. I haven’t seen anyone wearing a helmet, and I saw someone riding one wearing jandals, so feet are obviously at risk.

There has been one serious accident that has raised serious questions. An international student was knocked off a scooter by a truck in the early hours of Friday morning – Scooter rider out of surgery, remains serious.

There has been an unconfirmed report that the scooter went through a red light, but regardless of that questions are being asked about being able to use one at night, the scooters don’t have lights and are supposed to be taken off the road at night.

ODT:  Don’t ‘demonise’ Lime scooters over crash – Bidrose

An investigation is ongoing, but the ODT has been told the woman rode through a red light at the intersection and into the path of the truck.

A police spokeswoman would not confirm that, saying the Serious Crash Unit had examined the scene but “we are not able to speculate on the cause of the crash while the investigation is ongoing”.

Lime also refused to answer specific questions about why the scooter was on the street at that hour of the morning.

The company signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Dunedin City Council that included a requirement for scooters to be removed from public places each evening.

The ODT understands “juicers” — those who collect and charge the battery-powered vehicles — have been told to collect scooters needing charging from 9 o’clock every evening.

All other scooters were to be off the streets by midnight, and were not to be returned again until the following morning.

There have been inevitable reports of pedestrian clashes with scooters on footpaths. This has also been an issue in other places where the scooters have been introduced. And this has prompted calls for speed restrictions.

Stuff:  Government looks set to impose 10kmh Lime scooter speed limit

Work is under way on law changes that will impose a 10kmh speed limit for Lime electric scooters, with the Government set to consult on the new rules early this year.

But the scooters soon became a topic of controversy, with Auckland Mayor Phil Goff ordering an urgent scooter safety report in October after councillor Christine Fletcher was almost hit by a rider.

Goff later raised safety concerns with Transport Minister Phil Twyford. In his letter, he asked that the Ministry of Transport instruct police to pull up “dangerous scooter use” and raised the possibility of a e-scooter speed limit.

Stuff has been provided with a copy of Twyford’s response.

It shows the Government is considering a package of law changes called Accessible Streets, which aim to increase the safety of all users on the footpath.

“Among the proposed measures is a proposed maximum speed limit for all vehicles that are allowed on the footpath,” Twyford wrote.

“I expect that this package will be ready for consultation in early 2019.”

A spokeswoman for duty minister Grant Robertson said the maximum speed limit proposed under Accessible Streets was 10kmh.

If implemented, the limit would apply to Lime scooters being used on the footpath, she said.

A spokesman for Goff said the mayor would like to hear from the public on what speed would be appropriate.

10 kmh seems too over the top, I can walk that fast.

I don’t know how they could be just limited to that on footpaths. A blanket 10 kmh limit would possibly stuff the market for Lime.

A speed limit along with compulsory helmet wearing would be more of an issue. And what about requiring safe footwear, and even knee, elbow and hand protection? Scooters could easily be regulated out of contention as a viable transport alternative.

Like anything new the Lime scooters in Dunedin have received a mixed reception. They could be a good thing, but are not without their problems.

 

 

 

Lime in Dunedin

I received a lime tree for Christmas. I’m not sure how well it will grow here in Dunedin, but lemons do ok if you protect young trees from frost, so it is worth trying.

But different limes are arriving here today – ODT: Lime time here for Dunedin

Dunedin has officially joined the Lime scooter craze as 300 e-scooters hit the streets this morning.

From today, Dunedin will join Auckland, Christchurch and Hutt City as part of the United States company’s New Zealand fleet.

Unlike in Christchurch and Auckland, Lime would not be paying a fee to operate in the city, as it did not require a permit.

In Dunedin, two wheels good, four wheels bad, so this encouragement isn’t a surprise.

The company has hired about 30 employees, both full-time and part-time, to run the service in the city.

That’s a lot of employees, about ten per scooter, but it isn’t clear what hours they will work.

As I understand it employees collect scooters where they are left and charge them. Or are the contractors? I think that elsewhere they are paid per collection/charge.

In the six weeks after the New Zealand service became available last year, more than 500,000 trips were taken by 150,000 different riders, according to figures released by the company.

Time will tell if the become ‘a craze’ here or not.

I wonder how well they will go up Stuart Street, or High Street, or View Street. And I wonder how many are tested out on Baldwin Street. Brakes would be more important than uphill grunt.

There were also nearly 300 ACC claims for injuries sustained while using the scooters in the same period.

That shouldn’t be a problem here, a new hospital is planned to be built in the next ten years or so.

Key details:

  • Phone app used to locate a scooter and hire
  • $1 to hire plus 30 cents a minute
  • Helmets recommended but not compulsory
  • Allowed on roads, footpaths, separated cycle lanes and shared paths
  • Not allowed on dedicated (painted) cycle lanes

That last one is likely to be ignored given that they are allowed to be used just about everywhere else including footpaths.