This is a guest post from Hamish Mackie Director, Mackie Research www.mackieresearch.co.nz

It’s a real slice of life gazing out the window of an (oversubscribed) bus on the morning commute. Lots of cars, buses, bikes, e-bikes, people walking, jogging, and scootering. The scooters seem to have three types – push scooter, electric scooter probably owned by someone, and then the new lime hire e-scooters.

There’s been a bit of fuss about these new Lime scooters in recent media, but we can be a little more systematic about assessing their risks and merits. One way of doing this is by taking a ‘Human Factors’ (or Ergonomics) approach. Office chairs and desks come to mind but actually the discipline has contributed greatly to a range of areas of life we now take for granted – carefully designed aircraft and car interiors and controls, your new phone, analyzing the causes of large-scale disasters (such as Pike River), and the Safe System approach which is now commonly understood in road safety circles. It’s a broad field but there a simple concept that helps – we need to focus on how people work and then design things around them. Simple. So, taking the new Lime e-scooters there are a few layers we need to consider in this context.

Firstly, people and the design of these scooters. It’s been amazing to see the Onzo bikes and now these e-scooters appear. At 190cm tall (above average height but not ridiculously so), there is no way that I could practically use the Onzo bikes, and so I don’t. On the other hand, the size of the Lime scooters look great for me, but I’ve seen a number of users almost at eye level with the handlebars, and with clear control issues. Yet it’s design 101 to consider the size of users before building something and it seems other schemes have been much more considered in this regard (London bikeshare). There are datasets that describe the range of sizes of various populations and so it shoudn’t be hard to make sure the 5th percentile female and 90th percentile male is covered off in these products.

Looking slightly wider we then think about the environments that people operate these scooters on and the other users they must negotiate. The poor pedestrians are feeling threatened and then when the scooters are used on the road there is sure to be another headline titled “Dangerous Dickheads 2”. The point has already been made that, in line with the fact that most people are reasonable, most scooter riders are not out to torment pedestrians or be a nuisance to motorists – they are just looking for somewhere to operate. And this raises the very fundamental issue of how we allocate our road space and how we are not keeping up with the game.

A recent blog (Let’s Rethink what a Bike Lane is – 24th August) on the respected CitiLab site has a very interesting solution. It is suggested that road space could be allocated based on speed – 0-10 km/h (pedestrians, wheelchairs etc), 10-30 km/h (cyclists, e-bikes, e-scooters, other motorized personal mobility devices) and then 30-40 km/h for fast vehicles – buses, taxis, training cyclists). This aligns very nicely with the principle of Self-Explaining Roads, a concept that has underpinned a largely successful Dutch transport system. The bit that I disagree with is the term narrow, mid-width and wide, given to those categories respectively, which seems to suggest that motorized vehicles by default will have the most space – surely in some cases this may be sensible but in others it may not.

The key point from this novel way of thinking is how to build resilience into our road network. Who knows what personal mobility devices are around the corner, but if we have these broad categories, any new device will always have an appropriate place on the road. Of course the real key point in all of this is that we must learn more about how people want to, or could, get around and design our road system accordingly. Disruptive technologies guru Tony Seba would suggest that the world is not going to stay the same and so we must prepare for that.

So in practice we need to fundamentally look at the property widths that our road corridors occupy, consider the needs of the range of actual and potential transport users and then give them space accordingly. At this point it’s important to think about, not only what might wash over us from the future, but what we want to achieve as a society. This is where crucial data from Public Health colleagues paints a striking picture.

What do we hope to achieve from our transport system? We hear a lot about efficient access to opportunity and safety, but sadly we still don’t take Climate change or air pollution seriously and we are only just staring to get our heads around the wider health benefits/dis-benefits of our transport policies, let alone fundamentally important issues such as happiness.

The graph below, from Professor Alistair Woodward (Auckland University) and Michael Keall (Otago Univeristy – adapted from data from leading English public health researcher James Woodcock et al., shows the health/safety benefits/disbenefits of key modes in Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) – a key measure for public health professionals.

The striking message is that preventing obesity related disease such as Type 2 diabetes is a much bigger consideration than road traffic injuries in terms of overall wellbeing to our society. So with this in mind, it’s obvious that ‘active modes’ – walking and cycling deliver large benefits to us. This is important when any shiny new electric thing comes along weather it be a car or an e-scooter (e-bikes usually involve exertion to propel them). While we might be busting climate change with EVs and congestion with e-scooters, how much are they contributing to overall health and wellbeing.

We need to be a bit careful here as e-scooter riders are likely to be expending more energy than someone sitting in a car, and like bus passengers, are likely to be pedestrians at the start and end of their journey in the share-scooter scenario. Certainly e-bike research suggests that the exertion reduction is to some extent off-set by increased range and frequency.

Perhaps a way of dealing with all this is considering how many boxes are ticked by various modes:

In this example, safety is not just the risk to individuals or the risk of vehicle occupants, but also the risk that mode causes to the road users around them. Of course, there is likely to be endless debate about how these aspects are defined, weighted and scored (is a car fast? sometimes), but the point is that we need to be much more holistic about considering provision for various modes.

But in the short-term it’s the safety concerns that have everyone worried. And rightly so, as with any new thing, you want to make sure harm is not coming from it. But we do need to pause and think about the wider benefits and harms and make our judgements on this basis. But in the mean-time having a trial is a great way to quickly assess the risk and other factors associated with a new technology, as long as the right questions and measures are part of that trial, and actions come from it.

It’s unlikely that numerous deaths and serious injuries are going to result from the scooters and so the real safety issue is unlikely to be anything like that associated with motor vehicles, but we do want new things to be safe. Most importantly we want people to feel safe so that they are not put off walking and missing out on those important health benefits.
Coming back to our Human Factors approach though, the last important consideration is how the transport planning system is set up to deal with the new Lime e-scooters. Change in the transport sector has been glacially slow and it’s interesting that we expect our new phone or even car each year to be better than the previous year’s, but for our roads we expect them to remain precisely as they were designed in 1950 – despite many societal changes happening over this period.

Following Human Factors theory, the socio-technical system is where the big wins are. This is not just the technical space but the interactions with the people, organisations, processes and policies that shape the technical things. Many projects that respond to our changing world (such as cycle lanes) stall, go over budget or even just get shelved, because our planning system often seems unable to deal with this change. Yet by carefully analyzing the parts of the system that hold things up, we can then change the system, and hopefully make some progress. Is it training? Processes and manuals or organizational leadership for example? For our Lime e-scooters, what rules do we need around them? If we like them, on which space should they travel along? and most of all how do they fit into a plan for a transport system that New Zealander’s want and need?

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83 comments

  1. Yes after years of the medical profession hectoring people about what to eat and often getting that wrong (remember how they told us to stop eating meat and eggs so we all ate carbs and got fat) the medical profession now wants to tell us how to travel and by implication where we should live. They should stick to their training and deal with coughs, colds, moles, and sore holes.

      1. That’s what they say Heidi. In reality it is first check they have money to pay. If they don’t put them on a waiting list. It is 46 weeks for a child in South Auckland to get an ECG. When one of the Miss mfwics needed one I paid and had it done that week.

    1. One should never blindly listen to what ‘the doctors say’. You are in control of your own health, and doctors are there just to help you improve your own health. Do you own research in terms of what you should eat, how much alcohol you can drink etc. There are plenty of doctors out there who smoke and drink alcohol.

      1. Good stories of people who have listened to their GP’s: a woman I met in a swimming pool whose life changed after her doctor gave her a prescription for going swimming three times a week including details about the bus she needed to take to get there (this woman had been isolated since her husband died, as she could not drive.) A massage therapist I met whose husband’s doctor had prescribed stopping tv and starting a vegetable garden. Their evenings were now spent gardening, and they appreciated good food much more.

        I’m sure you’re right – many people do their own research. But it seems for a part of the population, having their own, trusted doctor giving sound advice is the key to making some good decisions.

        Btw, imagine being miffy’s doctor. When he refers to how we listened to our doctors and we got fat, I think he’s using the royal ‘we’. But I’m sure miffy’s doctor has learnt to see each subject they’ve discussed from multiple points of view. Even if he doesn’t know where miffy stands on any of them. 🙂 (I’m a cheeky sod.)

        1. That sounds like an excellent GP. One who not only knows the great impact of a healthy lifestyle on health, but also genuinely cares about their patients. Isolation has been shown to be a cause of early mortality.

        2. My doctor looks like he is about 16 and probably was at primary school when they were giving their flawed dietary advice. For what it is worth I hardly ever eat red meat simply because I don’t like the smell of it. Beef smells like cow shit, lamb like a wet sheep and pork is just too greasy to eat and they use sow crates so stuff them. As for fish, even fresh it smells like a dead thing, I have to walk quickly past it at the supermarket while ladies are standing there asking for ‘four pieces of the one that smells like a rubbish bin please’. But don’t let anyone tell you you can’t put on weight if you eat vegetables.

          1. If you want to not gain weight then it’s not about ‘eating more veg’ or ‘eating less meat’. It’s about eating less. You must still eat veg (to get your vitamins, fibre) and you must still eat red meat (to get protein and iron). It’s when you eat too much red meat that causes problems. Many vegetarians have iron-deficiency anaemia, which is just as bad as being overweight.

          2. You don’t have to eat red meat. I haven’t eaten any for 20 years.

            I could lose 5-8kgs, but that is nothing to do with eating red meat.

    2. What you eat doesn’t affect me – other than maybe health cost allocations. What you drive does affect me – pollution, greater road space, housing-land use pressure, (mis-)allocation of transport spending priorities, and threat of death to me and my children.

      1. On the contrary. Dairy and cattle are by far our largest contributors to greenhouse gases. Methane from cows is far far worse than CO2 from cars and what not. Eating meat and dairy is directly related to climate change and land usage.

  2. Great, balanced post. Thanks. Yesterday, some of the dangers presented to me as a pedestrian:

    Two vans pulling up and parking on orange dashed lines on Garnet Rd, when I was trying to cross. One on either side of me, so I was forced out into the peak hour traffic to be able to see. A driver in Newmarket who decided to go at his car’s top speed from Broadway, around the corner and to the first traffic light on Khyber Pass. Cars turning right from Pt Chev Rd into Tui St, forcing me to stop in the middle of the road just because they’ve zoomed into the picture. Assisting a lady who’d just had an operation to the car she was being driven home in, through a carpark with absolutely no pedestrian amenity.

    It’d be great if the dangers to pedestrians presented by e-scooters brings pedestrian safety to the fore, but any action will have to tackle the biggest problem first: dangers from motor vehicles and a transport network that has largely ignored pedestrian amenity.

  3. It’s been interesting watching the moral panic developing around Lime as if e-scooters are somehow more of a threat than cars.

    I like the idea of reallocating road space based on mode speed. It’s a much more future-proof solution.

    1. Moral panic is right; The Herald had a breathless story of a dentist reporting the injuries of a Lime scooter rider who face planted on Queen street, as if cyclists don’t face plant, or car drivers get fender-bender whiplash, or pedestrians walk into light poles.

      All this really is a matter of local regulators needing to catch up with the transport implications of new technology – high capacity storage batteries – and coming up with some guidelines.

      1. I’m guessing the Herald won’t be running a similar story about rugby injuries, complete with gory photos, and suggesting that be banned.

  4. A little suggestion: I think you should tick the boxes, instead of crossing them. And I use my bike (and sometimes trailer) when I want to carry more than I can carry when I walk. I think it can get a tick for “carrying things” too. My trailer had room for my little boy and his bike when he got tired.

      1. I think rather than fast, the column should be about designed operating speed, using a measure of the categories that relate to the speed categories, then looking at the potential harm to other users.

        1. I guess I was thinking more in terms of speed of moving the user from A to B, particularly in an urban environment, i.e. journey speed rather than maximum speed. Whenever that is tested bikes usually win.

    1. I know it is just an example, but that matrix is fairly subjective because it assumes what people value. Depends a lot on where you live and what job you have. It also misses out real cost. Other than EV, it’s cheaper for me to drive to work than any of those other modes. I take my total travel time as a opportunity cost which is huge. I travel outside of peak time so hardly ever hit congestion. My car is much faster and more reliable than the train or bus or bike. Ive got a flat tyre on my bike a few times which is really annoying and really ruined my week.

  5. I was hearing about some great work being done on bone density in overweight women, during the weekend. Bone density is important – public health costs are much higher in populations with low bone density, (the person you know whose leg bones were sheared right across, and who was out of action for a long time, most likely had this happen because of their low bone density.)

    No surprises: The women who walked and used public transport had the highest bone density. The women who get out and about, but usually by driving, had much lower bone density. The women with the lowest bone density were the ones who sat around, not going out much at all.

  6. The best part about Lime scooters is they demonstrate how stupid our helmet laws are. If you ride a bike with large wheels designed to cruise safely on a street then you must wear a helmet. If you burn along on a numpty scooter with tiny wheels designed to catapult you at the first bump, hole or kerb then helmets are your own choice.

    1. What a silly post.

      Can you demonstrate any data on ‘Scooter Catapaults’?

      Funnily enough, rode one this morning, through the bumps and road works of Franklin Road and I wasn’t sent through the air like a medieval trebauchet.

      Scaremongering at its finest, you don’t write for the Herald do you?

  7. @miffy Let’s not get too hung up on helmets – a Lime scooter lets you step off, a bike lets you fall off. OK, someone did an orthodontic face plant through sheer ineptitude, or an unaware pedestrian creating a hazard, but despite Christine Fletcher’s scaremongering most riders I’ve seen zipping around are judging their hazards, and the risk to others, pretty well.

    Let’s face it if you want drivers to look out for bikes, and cyclists to watch for pedestrians, surely we’re at the point of mixed mode transport where we need to lift our eyes off the phone, look around, and calculate our trajectory and those around us. Anyone who’ crossed Shinjuku Station at rush hour knows exactly what I mean – we have built-in lidar if we want to use it.

    I tried Lime 3 times at the weekend to get from where I parked, under a tree with #tedtheuberdog inside, and an event at the ASB Theatre in the Wynyard Quarter – perfect for that 200-300m flat dash, no worries about what happens next, and no helmet. If I need to slow down stop and step off, well, I have legs, OK? And eyes. It’s another way of getting us out of cars for short journeys, and I’m a fan.

    1. If you’re in favour of helmet laws, then from the research papers that I’ve read the order of importance to safety by activity is:
      1. Being in car (driver or passenger)
      2. Walking
      3. Cycling
      4. Public Transit User
      Unless there is a change such that those in cars are required to wear helmets, then the laws around mandatory helmets for cyclists are just stupid. Add in the helmet laws reduce the likelyhood of active travel over inactive travel (eg driving a car), and the result of the helmet laws is a significant net loss to general public health.
      I don’t know where the e-scooter fits in as I haven’t seen any research into the risks and safety improvements that would be achieved by wearing a helmet. The orthodontic face plant would have not likely have benefited from a helmet unless the operator was wearing a full face helmet, I doubt this would be the required minimum.

  8. The lime e-scooters just need a software update limiting them to 25km/h so that you don’t have idiot/novice riders joining around on footpaths at speed (not that you should be doing 25 on a footpath but it’s certainly better than 35!).

    1. I agree, and I think it’s reasonable to put it lower than 25, too. Where did these figures come from? What speed are we happy to have mobility scooters at on our footpaths? Certainly not 25, or 35.

    2. Cars just need a governor update limiting them to 30km/h so that you don’t have idiot/novice drivers knocking over and killing pedestrians on city streets (not that you should be doing 30km/h on some streets anyway but it’s certainly better than [insert any speed between 30km/h and 120km/hr!)

      1. I agree. This would cut so many costs – enforcement of healthy speed limits, amongst many. This way we could have benefits from the technological progress that is the car, without the most dangerous disbenefits. And the mode shift that would happen would return our city to people.

        1. It would also drive up fuel usage and emissions. Cars are geared to do road speeds because that’s why they were designed to do. A car that can do 80kmh in 6th is a lot more efficient than one using the same revs to do 30kmh.

          Meanwhile, bikes aren’t required to keep speedos and are plenty capable of breaking a 30kmh rule, with literally no safety technology at all. Why don’t we restrict the maximum speed of bikes then?

          1. Electric cars get much better mileage at lower speeds. If all cars had speed governors, then electric cars gain a significant advantage over ICE cars.

          2. Amazing how you get so much misinformation in two paragraphs, so I won’t address everything but the largest misconceptions: 1: Bicycles ARE restricted to te maximum speed for a given road. 2. the danger of 100 kg of cyclist at 30kph is MUCH less than a 2000kg box. 3: a car at 80kph is not necessarily more efficient than at 30. Especially given all the acceleration and deceleration in 30kph zones which tend to be suburban small scale roads.
            Finally, a good implementation of 30kph zones in most residential and community areas combined with more efficient connector roads, with proper mode separation high speeds are possible and total trip times can be reduced! everybody wins! Your kids would be able to play on the streets again!

      2. Oh ha de ha ha Benidorm. Do we have cars driving on footpaths with pedestrians? Can you fall off a car and hurt yourself? Do you need a license to operate a Lime scooter? Are there rules around giving way etc for scooters?
        No.

        I think 25 is a good medium for lime scooters as it is faster than walking/running/most cycling while being slow enough that serious injury to user or pedestrians is reduced especially considering most users are novices etc.
        For people’s own private scooters they can do as they please – chances are they are more skilled at using them and more careful also.
        Other option that some politicians and public want is them banned which would be a bad outcome.

        1. Do we have cars driving on footpaths with pedestrians? → from time to time. Sometimes for parking. Sometimes when going off the road and crashing into a building. You’d be hard-pressed to do that kind of damage with a scooter.

          Can you fall off a car and hurt yourself? → not literally, but cars going off the road and getting people dead is certainly not unheard of. A few broken teeth will be the last of your worries.

          Are there rules around giving way etc for scooters? → our road code is written assuming a car mode share of approximately 100%. If that assumption doesn’t hold the road code breaks down. (it is wildly impractical and potentially fatal to follow the road code as a pedestrian or a cyclist).

        2. OMG… YES we do have cars drive on the footpaths. Walk around auckland and you see them parked on the footpaths a lot. how did they get there? Once i walked to work when a delivery van (‘professional driver’) drove onto the footpath just in front of me completely blocking the path forcing me to walk on the road. When I in an upset tone pointed this out he called ME a hater. Once I was jogging on the footpath when a car drove onto the footpath right in front of me (to do a u-turn) which I only just avoided. The driver yelled at ME to wear a reflective vest. Once I crossed at a green pedestrian light and the front car slowly continued rolling (through her red) ONTO the pedestrian crossing RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. I there a paper lolly wrapper at the car and she started yelling at ME!.

          “Can you fall of a car and hurt yourself?” Good grief dude, are you that naive? People do all the time! off the back, through the windscreen, halfway through the engine block..

          Thats why the operation of a car requires a licence, and not bicycles or scooters. the consequences are hugely greater.

          So please swallow your smugness and learn just how bad it is in NZ. Walk for a change and see.

      3. I think cars should be allowed to enter the CBD only if they’re stationary. That’s the safest speed, for all – and safety is, after all, the reason people get out of bed and leave their houses. Zero speed, zero problem. Obvious!

        1. Exactly! You are a genius Peter. Thats why we need Buses for Cars! I can drive my car onto a Car-Bus and get carried right into the city and then drive off the car bus right into my car park. My car will be stationary the whole trip. Safer for everyone!

    3. I think they should charge by distance rather than time to remove the financial incentive to get from point to point as fast as possible…

      1. A very good point. I guess the reason they don’t is so that people don’t park up the scooter but stay logged on to it, effectively reserving it for themselves for later. But it would be easy enough to come up with a way round that- if scooter receives no movement or input for 1 minute it logs you out, for example.

      2. Totally agreed.

        The current way encourages people travel at shortest time. In other words, it encourages people to travel at highest speed that can be unsafe.

        There charge should focus more on distance than time.

        Regarding for people hanging on the scooter, the easy fix is to calculate both distance rate and time rate.

        At the end of the journey, lime should charge whatever is more expensive.

        For example lets say distance rate is $2 per km, and time rate is $0.3 per minute.
        If the journey traveled 2km and took 10 minutes, the distance cost is $4 and time cost is $3. The result cost is the max of ($4 and $3), will be $4.

        That way, it encourages people to use the scooter at reasonable safe speed.

  9. Miffy is in this case 100% right – our laws regarding transport and helmets are ludicrously silly. Scooters and skateboards allowed on roads? Dumb. Scooters and skateboard users at night, with no lights, no helmets, no reflective clothing? Just so bloody wrong. We expect cyclists to share bike lanes with buses, and wonder why people get pasted flat.

    We need a thorough re-think.

    1. I suggest something more radical. Human powered: no helmet required. Foot (on the ground) powered no lights required (max speed pretty low). human pedal powered (mechanically enhanced): light required.
      Powered ( scooters, electric bikes, motor bikes, cars): helmet required. Petrol powered: stink tax required.
      Give way rules: Stink powered gives way to green powered gives way to pedal powered gives way to foot powered.
      Basta

      1. I would like to live in a world where if a baby crawls across a road nobody can claim right of way

        Always grant safety to the more vulnerable.

        That is how I walk, cycle and drive.

        So simple and civilised.
        So unlike survival of the fittest.
        So unlike Auckland

  10. At least the e scooters are using our renewable generated power. https://www.transpower.co.nz/power-system-live-data
    Although low hydro levels and not much wind lately has taken the shine off it a bit.And Genesis is having to import coal again to power up the old steam units at Huntly.
    I would really like to see the Govt to take a bit of a lead here. For instance they banned new offshore exploration for oil or gas but have come up with zilch of an alternative. So the quick fix is to advance all the consented new power schemes for wind and particularly for geothermal. At least they would look a little less decisive than they do now..So here a slogan for this “generations nuclear free moment”. Drill for geothermal steam not oil. Sorry for hijacking the thread.

    1. Not really hijacking the thread. It is the point. The more people get out of cars and into active transport or lower-energy modes like e-scooters and e-bikes, the better off we’ll be. Energy wise included. Great link, by the way.

      1. Thanks for replying the whole renewable energy thing has being bugging me for the last few months.
        I keep looking at the electric postal quads and thinking for a lot of people they would be an adequate way to get around but they cost $25,000 so not cheap. However my son tells me that a four by four farm quad will cost about $19,000 so not much more. I am expecting there will be electric versions of these farm quads in the not too far future.The other day I was walking up to the Parnell rose garden for a bit of nature therapy and I was dragged off by a women on a mobility scooter doing at least 15 kilometres an hour uphill. And there not real high tech just use deep cycle lead acid batteries but again for city living quite practical. Does everyone have to be surrounded by half a ton of metal and plastic.Maybe we just need a maximum speed limit and vehicle dimension for them to run on the footpath. Presumably the postal vehicles are cleared to be used on suburban footpaths but you would want them in shopping areas. Petes post ride their mopeheads on the footpaths. And up and down the ramps at Papatoetoe railway station.

    2. I experienced a bit of a thrill on my way into Waiuku on Saturday; the first of the 3 Awhitu wind turbines had appeared on the skyline to the west. It takes quite a lot to give me a thrill these days.

      Agree re the government. What’s the plan re net zero GHGs? Is there a plan?

      1. Just heard on the news the Govt is providing money to keep the electric locomotives EF’s running on the Main Trunk. Why would it take a year to make that decision. But anyway good news.

          1. Good stuff.

            Also: Kiwi Rail is currently doing geotech work on the proposed Marsden Point Line as part of a business case.

            Need them to get on with progressing 3rd/4th mains through South Auckland …
            Maybe that’s going on behind the scenes too

          2. But if you can’t make a decision on the obvious things how will you make a decision on the difficult stuff.

        1. Great news!! Well done. Understand that it was NZF that pushed for this (the greens would have been happy too).
          Be nice to see GA do a write up on this praising the common sense decision. Is a pity it has taken so long but good outcome.

          1. Good suggestion, I was wondering if the refurb included the electrical system to permit the EFs to operate under the Auckland 25kv wires.

          2. That had been discussed here previously, apparently if doing the upgrade it wouldn’t be hard to incorporate. Of course unlikely to be used unless the electrification was extended south (unless they just hitched a couple of EFs onto some diesels and used them where they could all the way from Auckland to Palmy dropping the diesels off at Frankton. This would speed the trip time as the system wouldn’t have to be reinitalised from my understanding which would cut about 10 minutes each way off the time.

  11. We are heading the same route to the bike helmet rules.

    The benefits of helmets are offset by the significant reductions of cyclists. So the overall net benefit of that policy is negative.

    If we do the same restrictions to e-scooter to make them so difficult to comply, people may just not use it. So the net benefit is lost.

    I am worried our rules makers are trying to make the same mistake as they did to bike helmet rule.

  12. You are right, but maybe this could be an opportunity to go the other way: to say “these e-scooters show our helmet law is stupid and inconsistent, so let’s get rid of the law”. I will be writing something along those lines to my MP and to the transport ministers

  13. Remember when the Segways were launched here but then the powers that be said you couldn’t ride on the footpath or you would be ticketed, and you needed to wear a helmet or you would be ticketed, and if you rode on the road you would need to be registered and pay road user charges?
    I’m all in favour of the concept of these electric scooters but why are they allowed to travel at such unsafe speeds? As others have suggested, I think they should be limited in speed. I’d suggest 10-15 kmph max since they are used on footpaths. I have seen young teens hooning on main roads at what I’d estimate were speeds around the 30kmph mark. They were wobbling and did not look in control ie one incident and they’d be flying/crashing.
    This is not moral panic, just a suggestion that if we get the regulations right we won’t have the electric scooters going the same way as the Segway. (Which I agree would be obsolete by now anyway, such is tech innovation)

    1. Segway failed because they price it so expensive for commercial use only.
      Our world would be very different if Segway target general public and make it affordable.

      The patent law indirectly kills it because it allow monopoly who tries to maximize profit instead of improving people life.

      The same issue also happens with pharmaceutical patents.. but that is a separate discussion.

  14. Exactly right.

    “It is suggested that road space could be allocated based on speed – 0-10 km/h (pedestrians, wheelchairs etc), 10-30 km/h (cyclists, e-bikes, e-scooters, other motorized personal mobility devices) and then 30-40 km/h for fast vehicles – buses, taxis, training cyclists).”

    1) NZ needs a (new) nationwide transport corridor infrastructure standard for new roads which meets this requirement, and for which all retrofits should meet (there probably has to be a “far as practicable”)

    2) May require more than the standard 20m corridor (for 1×1 main roads)to achieve (increased development density can offset this)

    3) It would also be based on vision zero design principles

    4) Would probably require on-road parking to be done away with or further additional width provided

    5) Requires space for bus/brt lanes in cross section options.

    1. Interesting. They aren’t available in Waitemata – or at least when I was approaching doctors to offer our community garden as a great green prescription idea two years ago. But Manukau seems pretty progressive. The origins of the Gardens4Health project sprung from the Counties Manukau DHB ‘Lets Beat Diabetes’ programme in 2008, and it has been a really great project, supporting community gardens to encourage communities to grow their own food – an important step to both eating well and exercising well.

  15. For safety and by law motorbikes, e-bikes and bicycles must have two brakes. The lime scooters only have one, and there are reports in the media of people crashing (“Limed”) due to their brake not working. I think powered scooters should also have two.
    The lime scooters have much smaller wheels than an e-bike, so are far more sensitive to road or footpath surface irregularities. 27km/hr is OK for a bike but I think it is too fast for small diameter wheels. I think there needs to be a lower speed limit for any wheels smaller than 16″, maybe 10km/hr.
    By law you have to wear a helmet to ride a motorcycle, e-bike or bicycle. I think for consistency and safety this should also apply to powered scooters capable for more than 10km/hr.

  16. Oh please, rules about wheel diameter? Scooters whether powered or not work as they always did. I hadn’t been on one for 50, yes 50, years and had absolutely no stability or control issues. Anyone who’s ever ridden a bicycle knows that one brake on the front wheel has its limits and stability suffers. You allow for that. People simply need to use their brains instead of expecting regulators to sanitise every little thing. Consistency be damned, let’s have some fun and get around without squillions of petty rules and finger wagging. And body armour. Old people fall off footpaths regularly, cars stop on train tracks. Sorry, but who’s died riding a Lime scooter in Auckland? It’s just the thrill, and fear, of the new.

    1. Exactly. If you make silly restrictive rules people will just ignore them. The road rules were made with cars in mind. As cyclist I have made my own appropriate rules. Left turn on red, across the top of T’s, taking the lane to stop dangerous over taking, etc. My rules have no affect on motorists except to offend the indignity of some when they see a cyclist breaking the car rules.

  17. An interesting take on the e-scooter phenomenon, from Talking Transport… “E-scooters are a useful distraction. Bikelash has died down recently because those people have been too busy worrying about e-scooters.” Chuckle.

    Now, how about everyone joins together to fight the Uber Flying Taxis?

  18. A lot of theory and supposition in that – the balance to this scooter conversation is that there is a very old and well respected saying, it goes like this

    “JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN DOESNT MEAN YOU SHOULD”

  19. So – e-bikes are the only mode that tick all the boxes (why there is a question mark in health, when the bus gets a tick is a complete mystery!), so why aren’t we doing more to convince people these are a WAY better option than e-scooters which just encourage laziness and increase risks exponentially. E-scooters don’t belong on already busy inner city streets; why are they needed here? Just get rid of all cars on inner city streets and the other modes make these stupid devices irrelevant…

  20. Ah – virtue signalling from our puritan past – we mustn’t condone LAZINESS when virtues like INDUSTRIOUSNESS and SACRIFICE are better for the public good. What tosh.

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