Good news yesterday with Auckland Council announcing they would extend Lime’s e-scooter trial till the end of March – it had been due to expire this coming Monday. Along with the extension, Lime will also be implementing some changes, such as having roving ambassadors and more education about the use of them.

The Lime e-scooter concession for Auckland has been extended until the end of March.

In considering the extension, the council had considered its ambitions to be a smart technology city, reduced car dependence and environmental outcomes, as well as safety concerns, Auckland Council chief operating officer Dean Kimpton said.

“We’ve taken [safety concerns] into account when we’ve thought about the extension to the trial so the sort of things … we will work closely with Lime on will be around ambassadors, roaming ambassadors providing education, information, reminding people of safety, pop-up tents and locations where we can inform people.

“We will look at how we can better manage speed – what are the options, the technology options. We will reflect on – with Lime – how we extend that trial and what conditions might be put in place around additional Lime scooters in other parts of Auckland because there is a demand for that.”

“It’s been fascinating, the significant uptake of e-scooters, and this is not just in response to Lime, it’s also in response to people’s interest in different modes in transport. We’ve seen e-scooter growth through private ownership as well,” he said.

It’s good to see the council and Auckland Transport being open to new ideas as we’re seeing the opposite occurring in many international cities. As Patrick recently wrote, there is a transport revolution underway and it’s not driverless cars or even electric cars but small, electric powered mobility devices like e-bikes and e-scooters.

Lime is certainly changing how many people get around and in their year-end report noted that there had been 105,000 riders since just mid-October.

This was backed up at the press conference yesterday by Lime’s representative who said that Auckland has been one of the best markets for them with one of the highest numbers of rides per fleet size.

All of this isn’t to say we should be cheerleaders for the company. Personally I think they’re for many trips they’re simply too expensive, especially if your trip could just as easily be made by PT, although perhaps it’s not too bad if you are comparing it with the cost of a taxi. It’s not always possible to find one charged where you want one. I also suspect the charging model, paying by the minute, helps encourage some of the more dangerous behaviour as being held up by lights or pedestrians translates to a monetary cost so they get ridden faster and/or more aggressively – the one time I have used them, half of my 10-minute journey was spent waiting frustratingly at traffic lights. I think having some competition in this space could help with some of these issues but Onzo is still yet to launch and Bird is rumoured not to be doing so anymore.

While on the subject of Lime, they rolled out in Dunedin yesterday with the mayor making this comical statement. He is aware there are students in the town isn’t he?

Of course, it took less than a day for it to be done

Back in Auckland, one of the issues we’ve had is some news organisations have taken it upon themselves to sensationaliae e-scooters and attempt to portray them in a negative light any time they can. The Herald have been one of the worst at it and this was also highlighted yesterday with this article. The original headline can still be seen in the tweet where they imply a lime scooter was responsible for a coma when in reality it was an unrelated heart attack.

It would be interesting to compare the number of articles written about lime scooters with the number written about nearly the 400 deaths and 10,000 serious injuries annually on our roads.

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  1. It’s fantastic that Council have extended the trial licence, but already the introduction of Limes and the greater number of privately owned e-scooters have started to highlight areas of necessary change.

    It appears that Lime pay $1000 per month for a street trading licence. I’m sure this wasn’t designed with this sort of use in mind, so how about a change to something like $2 per day per Lime to licence their use on our city streets, with the revenue generated going some way towards providing additional infrastructure – parking areas etc. Over the 3 month trial that would have gathered about $100,000 for council.

    Riders are getting injured on Limes. With motor vehicles (except electric cars currently) ACC collects levies through registration and fuel costs and those levies go towards treatment of injuries. There is no equivalent revenue source for ACC from Lime, so how about a 10% levy on the charge, collected by Lime and paid to ACC. I have no idea if this would be enough to cover injury treatment, but it would be a start.

    Sure these ideas won’t help with the private scooters, but if I buy one I am already contributing to ACC through my salary levy and also to council for roading infrastructure through my rates and general taxation.

    1. Because people using limes also pay to ACC using their salary or wage earnings. This sort of argument is frequently bought up with bikes under the assumption that riders make literally no contribution to anything at all. Goose, gander etc. At some point you just have to accept there’s a bigger picture here, and perhaps it’s in Lime’s best interest to come to an agreement with ACC like NZR did with coverage for all rugby players. I can’t see them bothering until they have a permanent license though.

      1. No problem with your argument about private bikers already paying an ACC contribution. Private individual bike riders are not offering a service for hire, so should be exempt.

        But Lime and other bike and scooter hire companies are offering a pay for service which means they need to comply with WorkSafe requirements and pay ACC Levies. A quick look at the ACC levy for a classification code L661935: Other transport equipment leasing. Operating as a sole trader/self employed the annualised ACC Levy is $2236 on $80,000 income.
        So LIME and others in this industry should be paying ACC levies.
        Note if the injury rate stays high and their customers do not wear helmets, the levy should increase. I expect that ACC is already looking closely at LIME to work out how they should pay.

        When will a NZ company start this service? I object to my dollar being sent offshore everytime I would hire a scooter, to profit someone I cannot see.

        1. “Note if the injury rate stays high…” Where is the evidence that the injury rate is high? How does it compare to cycling, walking and running on a per-kilometre-traveled basis?

          Breathless Herald articles about the ‘dangers’ of e-scooters aren’t evidence. If there is no evidence then we should hold off on making changes until there is some.

        2. I think ACC has weighed in that point.

          The Lime guy made the point yesterday during the AT announcement Live stream, that NZ is one of the few countries where the actual true level of e-scooter related injuries are able to accurately tabulated and thus analysed.

          Thanks to the ACC system. Anyone who get hurt on, or by one of these e-scooters will make an ACC claim [unless its so minor they don’t even do anything about the injury at all]. So I’d believe the likes of ACC over any screaming Herald headlines.

          However, it certainly is the case according to ACC that wherever Lime goes in NZ, ACC claims rapidly rise and stay that way, in their wake.

          Now, whether they are more or less dangerous than other activities even per km travelled or per hour of riding, I doubt Lime are sharing that degree of usage information with anyone in NZ even ACC.

          So all ACC can report is absolute claim levels [and costs] and little else.

          That is clearly something that needs to change so that Lime have to hand over the aggregated usage data so that ACC can fairly assess if Lime are “covering their costs” like any “for hire” operator has to do under NZ Law.

          But it is the case that in NZ the medical costs are not the largest part of ACC claims it is the earnings compensation and long term disability costs that actually cost all the money. So it is in ACC and NZ Incs benefit that if Limes are too dangerous as they stand that ACC says so.

        3. @Don, but as with all app based businesses the number of actual employees that Lime NZ has will be minimal… pretty much all its interactions with people ll be on a “contractor” basis….be it juicers etc.

          Also I suspect they will quite easily be able to argue that their head office staff don’t face the same risk as the class you specified and will settle on a much lower risk rating…

      2. I wonder what the ACC action will be when someone uses a lime scooter in work time to, say, get to a meeting across town. If that employer hasn’t done a hazard & safety assessment and the employee didn’t do a risk assessment either they well be in breach in the case of an accident. In which case it could all get very expensive.

        1. Firstly its not ACC’s job to police workplace safety.
          Their job is accident prevention as a side role of the injury treatment and compensation.

          Enforcing workplace safety is a different departments job. [comes under MBIEs many roles, but unlikely to see much “enforcement” or policing there I’d expect].

          Secondly, its actually no different than if an employee got themselves run over by a bus while crossing the road to get the bus/train [or the employees own car] – so they could get to the same meeting I’d imagine.

          So you think every employer has a safety policy around using PT or private cars during work time imagining all possible “issues” and documenting them all for the employee to sign off and acknowledge as “read”?

          Yeah. Right.

        2. “So you think every employer has a safety policy around using PT or private cars during work time imagining all possible “issues” and documenting them all for the employee to sign off and acknowledge as “read”?”

          Well, they are breaking the law if they don’t. For most employees, travel for work is the most dangerous task they do. Any competent and legally compliant employer will have risk minimization strategies for work related travel, which may include banning outright travel by certain modes (often motorcycle). Given that Lime looks to be safer per km than walking, I’d be disappointed if it were banned…

        3. Most of the travel employees do is their to or from work travel. And that is almost always done on the employees own time and on their own equipment, at their cost.

          [and ACC’s when they have an accident or get injured]. For which employees pay into the ACC scheme and Motor Vehicle schemes via ACC levies on registration fees, and from General taxation to help offset that cost.

          Health and Safety has zero part to play in that aspect.

          So your comments that is the most dangerous task they do may be true but it irrelevant to the discussion or what employees are safely permitted to do within working hours.

          For the rest of their working time while at work Health and Safety rules require that you as employer identify the issues and formulate steps or a plan to deal with them. Not just blanket ban activities if you cannot mitigate the dangers sufficiently.

          Like all such things, just listing/acknowledging the issue might exist and to use common sense then having the employee acknowledge that fact is 99% of the Health and Safety job. But doesn’t do a damn about dealing with most workplace accidents nor other dangers. and its just make work for many businesses.

          Your workplace Health and Safety policy may say that crossing roads or using footpaths during work hours is dangerous and employees must exercise care, but you cannot ban such activities – its totally impractical nor can you provide sufficient safety equipment to make it 100% safe. So if they duck out to the local cafe for a quick coffee or fag and get hit from behind by a car, bus or Lime while walking on the footpath is it really the employers fault for not “preventing it”?

          And like all such prescriptive rules, it at the base all depends on “reasonableness”/likely occurrence of the dangers by the employers [and in turn the Workplace safety Tsars – after something went wrong] assessment as to the risks and whether they list them or not, let alone develop any mitigation or safety rules to deal with it.

          Under NZ current Health and Safety laws it is absurd but true that any NZ employer who had at least one employee impacted by the World Trade centre events during 9/11 would have possibly been interpreted by many in the Health and Safety industry here as “being at fault” for not explicitly recognising in their Health and Safety plans that planes [and do] could fly into tall buildings. [after all it had happened during WWII to the Empire St building, just down the road]. So yes 9/11 wasn’t without precedent.

          That aside, you say that Limes are safer than walking per km. How do you know that is true? – unless you know the total distance covered by all Lime users in NZ and the total level of ACC claims lodged for Lime scooter riders and by-standers for Lime scooter events you can’t possibly draw that conclusion as to which has lower claims per-km.

          Also if you define “walking” as covering every possible example of walking in NZ from walking down Queen St, or crossing it, mid-block, hiking cross country or simply walking on a dangerous surf beach or public roads like SH1, with no footpaths.

          Then yeah, maybe “walking” might be more dangerous in total number of accidents.
          But thats hardly a reasonable or fair comparison.

          In an Urban context where Limes are used a relevant and fair comparison – you may believe that Limes are safer than walking, based on your own personal assessment/intuition.

          But like those “Health and Safety plans” that purport to protect us the actual truth is very likely a lot different in reality.

          And no one is making sufficient information publicly available to let anyone draw those conclusions one way or the other.

          That secrecy/lack of transparent data is in itself, yet another bothersome part of the whole Lime trial.

          If Telsa (or Uber) wanted to run Robot cars on our roads, or someone else fly Robot Taxi planes around our skies we’d expect a lot of public data to be gathered and made public before, during and after the trial to let the claims made about safety be verifiable.

  2. Meanwhile we can’t have them in Wellington City apparently because they would compromise the values of our footpath policy. I mean I get that there is the potentially for conflict with people walking in some places but this is yet another argument for councils to expedite the roll out of separated/protected lanes for bikes, scooters etc. This is crying out for a tactical urbanism approach to get these delivered quickly.

    1. The WCC clearly has more sense than some other councils. They get the dangers these things pose. If pedestrians are not safe on footpaths then where are they safe? I’m all for extending special lanes but until then the millennials and gen z can walk or use public transport

      1. Imagine if I’d followed up with ‘until then baby boomers can keep killing the planet’, but I didn’t..because its nonsense.

        I see all ages riding Limes Ian, but keep trying to create that divide, never give up!!

      2. Ian, good to know Wellington has footpaths where pedestrians are safe. Auckland pedestrians lost footpath safety to arrogant drivers a long time ago.

        1. Rampant footpath parking in Wellington, with Council refusing to take any meaning enforcement (afraid of the backlash). Particularly bad on narrow roads in the inner suburbs.

          Too many motorists unable to understand that if there is not space to park on the carriageway without blocking through traffic then it is illegal to park regardless of whether there are no parking lines painted.

        2. So this is where the real story around safety for children and other vulnerable users lies. In Auckland, it would be good if people concerned about pedestrian safety, like Christine Fletcher, could tackle the big one – the danger from cars – instead of the new one. Especially as the new one might eventually work to reduce car use, and improve safety for vulnerable users.

        3. If you are in Wellington ring Parkwise if you find footpaths blocked. People snivel incessantly about them which suggests they are doing their job. I have always found them very helpful. More power to the pedestrian and much less to tossers on Limes who think the footpath belongs to them. Very good column by Martin van Beynen in the Dom Post this morning

    2. E-scooters really struggle to go up hills so they’d only be useful in the Wellington inner city where it’s flat-ish, which does have a lot of potential for conflict with pedestrians. Totally agree that the city needs more cycle lanes though.

      1. Do they need to be geared differently? At least Lime scooters are quiet – I heard a really noisy privately owned one recently.

        1. complete waste of time up even a slight incline but theyd be ok around evans bay, kilbiirnie, newtown if we swapped storing vehicles for movement of people.

        2. Do you have one? I do. And I’ve given up using it. It’s the fastest track to being on the receiving end of bike hatred – and given the number of people I know who’ve been punched, spat on, tripped up, not just verbally abused like I’ve been – it’s not worth the risk.

        3. Nah, the punching, spitting, tripping and knifing weren’t after bell ringing. Just general strangers venting their hatred unexpectedly.

          But many people react to a bell by thinking it’s a criticism and a challenge, or that the person on the bike is being impatient. No matter how much you smile and hang back until they’re ready, etc. Just not worth it. Easier to hang right back until there is space.

        4. “Bikes used to have bells – and *pedestrians* who were socially considerate enough to *hear* them.”

          Fixed that for you. Seems that a cyclist ringing a bell or calling ‘on your right’ is seen as an insult by pedestrians. Although exactly the same happens when I’m running. I’ve been yelled at for having the audacity to pass pedestrians with warning at 10kmh on a shared path and for running on the road to get around pedestrians walking 6 across. Luckily I’m reasonably big, young, fit, and male so I get fewer threats of assault or murder from pedestrians than most cyclists, but I still get my fair share.

      2. They are an absolute bastard on hills. You kick to get some speed then as it slows you stand really still and balance as long as you can while it slows to nothing to try and get everthing out of your effort. Then repeat. The only thing worse is going down steep hills. In residential areas with closely spaced vehicle crossings and other bumps in the footpath you either have to go really slow or the ride is terrifying. On the flat they are simply brilliant.
        But I doubt if anyone anywhere is going to replace a car trip with a Lime Scooter. They do totally different things and you have to factor in the risk you may not find one for the return trip. Lime scooters are really only a substitute for walking.

        1. I think a lot have been a substitute for kicking a ball around this summer, actually. But I think people are replacing car journeys with PT plus lime. Particularly for first leg. Take the lime to the bus if there is a lime available, the car if there’s not. Sort out the last leg on the bus – walk if necessary.

        2. The lime need to improve the breaking performance for downhill.

          The Xiaomi scooter is better before of its bigger wheel and regenerative ABS braking. It has better handling and better downhill breaking.

          Lime scooter should somehow upgrade their model that are more suitable for NZ conditions.

        3. I know a few people who use them for the last kms. i.e. drive and park just out of town and ride a lime or own scooter the last bit. Of course as free parking is slowly replaced by resident parking this becomes more difficult.

        4. 15-20km/h over <3km is the perfect replacement for a car. Would be faster than driving for (say) Narrowneck Beach to Devonport, or Windsor Park to Constellation Station, which hundreds of people drive every day.

      3. They need more torque.

        Thats why I think 300w isn’t enough for New Zealand’s steep roads.

        A more sensible way is they should just limit the max speed, not the max power.

      4. Yesterday cycling up Nelson street I was overtaken and kept ahead of by a guy on what I think was a Xiaomi Scooter. Probably doing 15 – 20 kph. I was surprised. I’ve ridden limes up there and it needs a fair bit of kicking effort. But once up to speed they hold it well enough. Still faster than walking!

        I also commuted once on a Lime all the way from Mt Albert to Fanshawe st, and back, via the NW cycleway. My average speed was higher than my usual cycle ride! But the cramp from standing in an offset posture for the whole ride was rather sore.

  3. The main problem I have with Lime et al is that they are promoting a “revolution” using a business model which is unsustainable, as well as products which are not designed or rugged enough for their intended use pattern and do not bother to police their own basic usage rules, which are designed to completely absolve Lime and co of any risk and little else.

    They or other competitors will eventually run out of money (or working e-scooters), or the public social license to operate and will depart as quickly as they arrived, leaving everyone else to unpick the mess.

    In short they’re even worse than Uber for a long term, sustainable transport future.

    But, yes they are a transport mode revelation for many people. Whether they solve the last mile as they stand I doubt it very much. But future versions might.

    But to be frank most of what gives them their usefulness is the sheer ubiquity of the devices. Like Visa used to advertise, they have to be everywhere you are/want to be.

    The “ride then dump” model – which means they seem cheap to use, but in reality they all end up cluttering up city footpaths and streets en-masse even when not being ridden. At least, unlike Ubers do, un-hired Limes don’t congest the roads even when travelling empty.

    Now we can draw the same “clutter up the space” analogy with cars, and yes if most folks using cars down Queen St and surrounding areas stopping driving cars and started Lime scootering then we’d be a hell of a lot further on. But thats not what is happening. Lime scooters are being made an addition to not instead of a lot of existing “Traffic” of all kinds (pedestrian & vehicle) and simply add more congestion into limited space.

    But AT has literally been caught napping here, they have no enforceable policies for how to manage Lime, nor any idea how to safely share the road corridor space with such “novel” transport devices. They clearly shouldn’t use the road as they aren’t designed for that. They are barely even safe on a smooth surface, let alone the kinds of footpaths that often exist in Auckland. And they also go too fast and also silently for pedestrians so end up being allowed almost by default to use cycleways as thats the only space AT will begrudge them right now.

    So we need 4 things to happen really if this is to have any longevity.

    1. Proper reallocation of all road space to make room for these types of scooters

    2. Enforced and enforceable [self] regulation of both Lime and the users on them. for instance. If the speed limit is 10 km/hr and you exceed that speed a set number of times – maybe 3 times in a row in a given hire. Your Lime stops working after the third time. And you have to re-hire it again or hire another one. The “re-hire” fee of $1 becomes a de-facto “speeding fine”. And of course Lime can easily add demerit points for persistent violators, so that eventually Lime won’t work for you if you rack up too many speeding or other demerits.

    3. Better designed scooters, with better brakes, bigger wheels that handle footpaths and general ruggedness of the scooter designs so that the next Lime you want to hire is actually working and still safe to ride, by you not matter what “tricks” or damage everyone else who hired that Lime before you has done on them.

    4. The lack of helmet requirement is a major attractiveness to most users. This clearly shows what a turn-off existing cycle helmet laws are for cycling uptake. The Compulsory Helmet law needs either to be repealed for all adults who ride e-scooters or bicycles.
    Or Lime riders are brought into line and any Lime rider has to wear a helmet like cyclists do.

    Of course, we all know that if they make helmet wearing compulsory most adults will stop riding them overnight. So you’d hope that the likes of MoT, NZTA and our politicians will see sense and simply retire compulsory helmet laws for adults – when they invariably have to tidy up the other laws that are clearly so lacking.

    Since under 18’s are not currently supposed to ride Limes – kids riding them would either be breaking the [revised] helmet Law or the Lime user rules or both by riding on any Lime if you are under 18 with or without a helmet. So that angle is covered before you start.

    1. I agree with your comments. To me, Lime and other e-scooter operators is just another form of over hyped use of technology. that has high indirect costs to AC, AT and ACC.

      1. I disagree that they over hyped, I think they are genuinely useful as a transport mode. The main issue is that we need more of them and a lower cost – which will come as long as they aren’t banned.
        Yes maybe the indirect costs need addressing – although show me a transport mode that isn’t subsidised in some way.

        1. Lime scooters have opened people’s eyes and hearts to getting out into the street, with the physical, social and emotional thrills this entails. Can this genie ever be put back into the bottle?

          I imagine Lime scooters have brought about for many people a hope that our city and transport can be fixed, a feeling of individual freedom of the most healthy sort, a willingness to try and incorporate walking and other micromobility ideas into their lives, a growing trust that strangers aren’t a danger to hide from in cars but people to take care around, and of course – as the Dutch have researched around cycling – a growing ability to give and take socially.

          I imagine a proper study will show benefits from E scooter share schemes would swamp injury disbenefits.

        2. You got to be kidding. You can say that bikes, e-bikes, mobility scooters are genuinely useful as transport modes. So you are happy to keep falling or have an e-scooter being driven by an idiot crashing to you?

          What do you suggest who pays for the indirect costs like ACC, etc – the rate/taxpayers?

          As far as I am concerned it is over hyped technology like Uber, Airbnb, etc.

        3. “over hyped technology like Uber, Airbnb, etc”. And pretty successful, too. Embraced by most.

          Indirect costs like ACC? Users aren’t rate/taxpayers?

        4. “So you are happy to keep falling or have an e-scooter being driven by an idiot crashing to you?”

          I am more than happy for Lime scooters to continue crashing into pedestrians at incredibly low rates and with incredibly low severity, as is currently happening.

        5. KLK. MLF & Sailor Boy – Lime, like Airbnb, Uber, etc operates as a C2B commission distribution/payment platform, paying little or no tax, no care/responsibility business model in the countries they operate in.

          Yes, Lime has a riders agreement layout the rules but that’s were their responsibility ends. Lime is not interested in any disruption their product causes like accidents, ‘dumping’ of their e-scooters, etc.

          Lime’s NZ operation is going to pay little or no NZ company, pay no ACC levies on a per ‘hire’ basis and no WOF/COF on their product.

          I do agree with some of the comments, that Lime has caught NZTA, AC and lessor extend AT napping, like with Uber, which is now classified as a ride sharing service along with taxis, shuttle bus (under 12 passengers) operators, limousine operators, etc, needs to be regulated as a rental vehicle operator, as they are hiring out a road based product that can travel up to 27-30kph not a leisure scooter that has a far less maximum speed.

          As far as I am concern, Lime is another American product that is over hyped like Uber, Airbnb, etc that sucks in gullible people who think its cool to ride a Lime scooter.

          If e-scooter/e-bike hires are going to be another so call PT mode, then it needs to regulated, instead the of the hap hazard approach that AC, CCC, DCC UPHC and now HCC are taking at the moment.

        6. How is exactly is Uber and Airbnb “overhyped”?

          If you mean wildly successful and adopted globally, agreed. If you foresee the same outcome for Lime and other players, fantastic.

    2. Saying the AT has been caught napping is a bit harsh – the Lime scooter revolution was virtually an overnight event. One minute there were none, and nec minute!! But the speed of their uptake does mean that AT will have to work a lot quicker than they have on other matters in the past. I can see a point where regular users would start looking at purchasing their own machines from their local Bike Barn or wherever, and maybe the provision of stacking space on trains – buses wouldn’t be so good for that.

      1. The rollout may have been an “overnight” event.

        But everything else about these devices coming to NZ from overseas has been well telegraphed in advance as coming. AT will have noticed the issues caused in the US with these e-scooters too, and presumably they had a lot of input to the original “Street” license AC gave them for a trial.

        Lime certainly didn’t rock up one Monday and say to everyone, “Limes for Africa, as of tomorrow”.

        AT has been taken by surprise by the rollout speed and uptake, but again, thats how first movers like Lime and others work. They aim to grab as much mindshare as possible.

        I suspect AT thought it would be a gradual ramp up like say when Uber came to town.
        And likely the other “competitors” to Limes plans were also stated that way to AT.
        Hence their slow ramp up “trial”.

        But the entry barrier for Lime users to use these things and for Lime itself for its rollout is low to non existent. AT, and NZ is literally being taken for a ride by these companies.

        Regular users will want their own as the Lime models (and most others from Limes competitors) are pretty basic, crappy products. Designed only for a fad, not for long term use.
        Word has it that Lime doesn’t even recoup half their costs of each Lime scooter in fees before its broken or damaged beyond repair. So hardly a sustainable model. If for every dollar you spend you only make 50 cents on the thing.

        But proper consumer models of e-scooters will be pricier, but come with better capabilities, so the market there is probably smaller than you might think at least for now.

        But yes, even that level will cause even more issues on PT as people will bring their own with them on buses and trains. Lime’s model is you leave the Lime at the bus stop/train station and pick a new one up at the other end. I’ve seen people with old school fold up kick scooters on trains for years. But e-scooters are a different class from those users or devices.

      2. Similar electric scooter hire schemes have been around for a couple of years overseas. Lime has been doing them for nearly a year. Its been a natural progression from bikes which have been around for many years. Hardly overnight.
        Its now approaching 3 months here. Still nothing but conversations and personal opinions from council and government around speed, helmets and where they can be ridden.
        600 ACC claims suggests change is required.

        1. When talking about car crash stats, we only hear about DSI, and I’ve seen first hand people with multiple long-term problems requiring ongoing specialist attention, in long-term pain, and including people unable to sleep, exercise or even eat properly as a result, and these apparently don’t count as ‘serious’.

          When talking about Lime scooters all of a sudden we don’t talk about DSI, but about ACC claims, which can include anything that requires medical attention. Sprained fingers, a check in case there might be concussion, a deep splinter, a blood nose that won’t stop.

          I’ve no doubt there’s risk involved but it’s not fair to bandy about ACC numbers without knowing the breakdown, and without comparable statistics for other modes.

        2. 600 ACC claims on ~200,000 rides means change is required? What do you think we need to do about rugby, skiing, running, or showers?

        3. Well we were forced to compulsorily wear cycle helmets based on a similarly flimsy set of ACC numbers and cost-benefits that didn’t quite stack up in reality.

          So what would be different if the present numbers were used to bring changes to the e-scooter business?

          However, we collectively accept those activities you list as one for which the ACC costs are seen as worthwhile overall. And for which a discussion and overall consensus about them was reached decades ago and also all those activities were ones NZ was doing long before ACC showed up. So they are accepted as being “already in the landscape”/and not practically ban-able.

          But Rugby and skiing [even boxing] in particular are a lot safer for the participants now overall than they were when ACC was first introduced without a doubt. So while the total number of claims for those has gone up it is not seen as being wildly out of proportion to participants doing the activities.

          Running, well no level of that activity is likely safe enough, but by the time most of those injuries surface ACC generally says they are age related degeneration and refuse to compensate. So they probably don’t inflate ACC claims too much.

          As far as Lime goes, well we have decided to let them into our cities, so evaluating if the increased level of ACC claims is reasonable or not still needs to be done. But must be done.

          It is true though that if the top speeds of the Lime scooters was 10 km/hr and users were policed better either by the Lime scooters themselves or by Police [or AT] to ride safely, be adult and have a driver license and wear a helmet – the number of ACC claims would be a lot lower than they have been for all injury types. To both Lime riders and to by-standers.

          It is also true that the Lime scooters we see are not exactly fit for all the purposes being used for in all locations and surfaces they are being used on. So while ACC’s role is a no fault system as far as the injuries go. It is also true that we do not permit unsafe vehicles on roads and there are minimum safety standards that NZTA is supposed to enforce.

          We don’t for example let bicycles, pedestrians or horses on Motorways. We also do the same with electrical equipment. There are minimum acceptable standards there too.

          So it may be that Lime and others need to be made to provide safer/more “fit for purpose” e-scooters in NZ. And that may also include a combination of regulations, laws and other changes to ensure a better & safer outcomes happens before they get carte blanche.

          ACC claims evidence is valid to use to assess the relative risk or before and after risks for these devices. But it is one element of that overall assessment. But its also true that for every ACC claim there will be many more “near misses” or minor “dings” that don’t result in ACC claims. So ACC claims should be seen as the minimum level not the maximum level of claims or incidents.

          And maybe if we did bring in tougher rules Lime mightn’t want to remain in Auckland or NZ. But we can’t let empty or implied threats to take their toys and go home [ala Uber], prevent us deciding what we will accept or not, nor stop us making whatever sensible changes are deemed required to bring about better outcomes.

    3. The best thing about scooters is with the high uptake it makes much more sense to build cycle/scooter lanes. Mike Hosking and his many listeners can hardly complain about these lanes if they are actually well used. Why not reduce queen street to 2 car lanes and 2 scooter lanes and see what the uptake is?
      I think ride sharing scooters are a much better solution to ride sharing cycles as they just feel more turn up and go. I don’t think it is just the helmet law at play (although it may be a small factor).
      Today I need to go about 1.5 km up the road. Its a bit of a pain as walking will take a fair chunk of my limited time. I could ride my bike but then I need to unlock and lock it several times also taking time. If there happens to be a Lime scooter outside it will be ideal…

      1. Instead of 2 e-scooter lanes why not 2 dedicated bus lanes plus 2 car lanes. Why should e-scooters have their own dedicated lanes when it is a struggle to introduce dedicated bus lanes. Dedicate bike lanes have more priority in implementation than bus lanes, so let e-scooters use bike lanes.

    4. Caught literally napping? LOL Are you serious. AT is not a person, therefore cannot nap. Stop being silly. Besides, NZTA has been looking at control of such devices since at least 2016.

      Also, they could simply refuse Lime a license on safety grounds and send them packing. The fact is NZ had no data on their usage, now we have a lot more understanding and are better informed to make decisions in future. And it hasn’t been that bad so the trial period is continued so we can get more information.

      Fact is, we have plenty of space to stick random scooters. Sure, I see them lying everywhere along the water front, but as long as they aren’t in my path, I dont care. If they are, I just chuck them over the sea wall.

      You list 4 points that “need to happen”, but none of them those things need to happen. It’s just your personal opinion which may or may not bear out in reality.

      Lime and other operators may come and go, but E-scooters are here to stay because they are unlikely to be banned, just regulated. They fit a niche because people are buying them.

      Is the dockless e-scooter business model sustainable? Probably not because they are all losing money hand over fist, but it will be far more profitable than a docked system which costs far more and uses up precious street space. I think they will have to raise prices eventually, so only tourists or rich people will use them.

      I think the great thing about all this is that a lot of private money is being spent to convince people about alternate forms of transport and get people interested enough to buy their own e-something. Fewer drivers taking fewer trips can only be a good thing.

      Having said all that, personally I think it is a bit of a fad and will die down with only a few rich people using their own ones and some tourists renting some. We just had lots of people trying Lime out recently, but 1 ride only and never again. I think personal e-bikes have the superior offering and will see the most growth over the long run.

      1. “Probably not because they are all losing money hand over fist” – are they? I reckon Lime must be making a killing in Auckland.

        1. Didn’t we see they pay for themselves in less than a month? Which means there’s room for Lime to pay a levy and to reduce prices now.

        2. Don’t know about Auckland,
          But overseas there are reliable reports that Lime and others generally don’t even recoup on average half the cost of the e-scooter before its broken, lost, vandalised etc

          Let alone paying the cost for the rampant army of Juicers they also need to keep them going and repaired.

          Of course Auckland may be better than those overseas examples.
          These are not robust devices like say overseas bike share schemes. They will not last, nor do Lime etc care – as long as they can keep spreading and they have money to fund it they will keep on rolling out.

          But yes, if Lime wants to operate here they need to pay proper fees for using the street-space no matter how useful a function their devices enable. Its only fair they do so as everyone else pays to use the streetscape for their business and Lime is no different.

        3. Why? “no matter how useful a function their devices enable” … That attitude could shoot a few good ideas in the foot, no? If someone had a business model for something that provided mobility and also sequestered carbon everywhere it went, but needed street space… would you charge for their use of the street space just because they have a business model? I would prefer to see a balanced approach to benefits and drawbacks.

        4. Your example is entirely hypothetical.

          But if they use the streets [or other resources in city] for a private business, they should pay us (the ratepayers and taxpayers) for the use of said streets to compensate us collectively for the opportunity cost of them using a finite resource.

          Places that have tables and chairs on the footpath pay to do exactly that, why should not Lime, Onzo, Lyft etc? They’re all here to make money (long term anyway). With the short term goal generally to do whatever it takes to prevent competition from getting a look in.

          The fact that they choose not to make now is their decision, but its not our problem so that why should we give them a free pass? No matter how worthy the notion.

          And if you believe some projects are just so good as per your example, that they should be exempt, lets see an example of one – that good old private enterprise is providing us totally gratis, with no disbenefits, using public resources, that also puts back more than it takes. Can’t think of one. Can you?

          Even Skypath for all their worthiness didn’t get a free pass from anyone ‘cos it was just all so wonderful and good and we all supported it. [which is all true BTW].

          Secondly if we had light rail down Queen St that was provided by an organisation thats not owned by AC [say its owned by the NZ Super fund and the Canadian Pension Board joint venture that been proposed] do you think that we should grant them free use of the roads/right of way because of the public good they do by carrying us (for a fee)?

          To that I’d say *maybe* but only if they gave every ratepayer and resident of NZ free rides to compensate that might be something to consider as a quid pro quo. But I don’t think such a plan would last as its clearly not sustainable.

          What if they just put the light rail vehicles on tracks AT owns? Do they get a free pass then? No they do not.

          My counter to your suggestion that some businesses are so worthwhile that they deserve a break that others can’t get. Is to suggest that if its that much of the community benefit from this activity, then AT or AC [or Central Government] should be directly providing to the public of Auckland as part of its core functions. And that applies to Light Rail tracks and vehicles too.

          Just as equally to be transparent, the council should also levy that organisation (even if it is really itself) with fees like any one else would pay for doing so, even when doing so makes it a zero sum outcome money wise – because doing so represents a fully transparent outcome with regards the policy of charging for use of the public space.

          The other approach is to charge nothing to anyone, or to selectively charge some and not others. Both will end up with perverse outcomes.

        5. It does probably come down to the problem that AC’s ‘core business’ has been defined so narrowly for years that plenty of services aren’t being provided, and community groups or businesses do need to step in. I can give you dozens of examples of things that aren’t happening that should be happening, and if a business was to find a way to do it, I’d prefer that they’re not charged, even if it is in the public space. Of course, if it is making lots of money, that’s when you should charge. If Lime is making lots of money, they should be charged. If not, it may be that the service they’re providing is worth not charging them.

          These examples are typically done by volunteer community groups. But a core belief in permaculture is that people are worth being paid for their time, that not everything we do for the community should be volunteered, that a sustainable, circular economy can evolve from small endeavours in which community members see a need and try to fill it, but in a way that they can reap a gain. The principle is “obtain a yield”.

        6. Example One: a business providing a seat / secure bike storage combo installation for a few bikes at suburban bus stops, charging for the storage, not the seat. 🙂 Way overdue for AT and AC to do so. Would reduce local park’n’ride cars clogging local streets, allowing more of the streets to be used as public space. You can imagine the rigmarole a business would have to go to to get approval. They’d be risking a whole lot of time organising it and an outlay of capital without any security of a successful income from the bike storage.

          Example Two: a business using a small section of a park as a horticultural endeavour, growing salad greens and edible flowers for the local restaurants. The garden may be very attractive and the gardeners’ presence might provide passive surveillance; thus the overall public use of the park might increase. They’re also likely to use trimmings and arborists’ mulch from the park in their compost making and thus reduce fossil fuel use in removing that material to a composting facility.

        7. Do you need more examples? I can give them in the waste minimisation, biodiversity, housing, transport, food, spheres…

        8. And all profits go to the USA to Lime’s tech shareholders and NZ gets nothing except indirect costs.

        9. Where the profits go is not relevant. If it was why not question where the profits of all businesses that use council roads go

      2. AT may not be a person and so cannot really nap, but they certainly act like they are sleeping most of the time I’ve ever had dealings with them.

        “Besides, NZTA has been looking at control of such devices since at least 2016.”

        Maybe NZTA has. But NZTA has spent a lot of time and effort looking at control of a lot of things since well before 2016 – yet it hasn’t done a damn thing about controlling them either.

        Seems NZTA is as much guilty of being figuratively “asleep at the wheel” as AT is/was.

        But AT has almost no power to bring in rules that really matter because NZTA is the only one with the ability to really change the NZ Road Transport rules.

        [Like allowing or not e-scooters on footpaths, cycleways, roads, requirements for helmets, driver licensing etc].

        And as we have seen with the Warrant of Fitness and other Road Safety scandals with NZTA or late, their management of the regulatory functions, for which they are legally tasked with doing has been as lacking as the wearing of helmets and abiding by the Lime user guidelines has by Lime users.

        “The fact is NZ had no data on their usage, now we have a lot more understanding and are better informed to make decisions in future.”

        Does anyone in NZ really have more information now than before? e.g. on levels of uptake, accidents, cost benefits than we did before they came here?

        I doubt Lime are sharing anything with anyone outside Lime. So neither AC or AT or ACC has any real insight into the success or otherwise of these trials. So if we don’t actually have hard data to hand, how can the likes of AT, AC, NZTA or any other council in NZ actually plan for managing them inside their particular jurisdiction?

        Uber has had the same attitude too and refused to share any data. Even now Uber ride data is only grudgingly shared and jealously guarded. And once Lime become owned by Uber the same corporate malfeasance Uber is well known for will, trickle down to Lime operations.

        Dockless devices are the way to go over a dock system, but they need mobile infrastructure (e.g. Juicers for Lime) to recharge, regroup/tidy up and generally manage the Lime scooters in the field. So neither option is likely sustainable as it stands.

        Before any personal transport will become a real alternative, you need consistent rules that can be policed. At the moment its a wild west out there, just like when Uber came to town and basically let anyone with a license drive for them as way of saying f*ck you to the NZTA and MoT.

        Actually right now it reminds me of the situation in the ’80s with regards 1980s property developers in Auckland running roughshod over the planning rules to get their buildings up first whatever the cost.

        Only the “first” they actually achieved turned out to be race to the bottom in a lowest common denominator kind of way and everyone has been suffering ever since.

      3. With the usage rates in Auckland they probably pay for themselves in as little as a week! Remember companies like Lime bulk buy in huge quantities.

  4. Lime itself is pretty irrelevant , the council decision, although welcome, doesn’t really matter.

    The numbers in private ownership have reached critical mass, I see as many non green scooters as i do Limes.

    In Auckland at lease e-scooters are now a part of the transport landscape and the council can’t do anything to stop it.

    The focus needs to be on supporting their growth in a safe fashion. All this talk about ACC etc is just wind.

    1. This is a good point.

      Council could ban Lime tomorrow but personal ownership will continue to climb. What will council do then? They will have to expedite cycle lanes to cater for them. Bring it on.

  5. I’m pleased that our Council has been able to allow a trial of Lime scooters, and now to extend the trial. It shows flexibility.

    By ‘Council’ does this really mean Council, not AT? Can anyone fill me in on which decisions Council gets to make on transport, and which ones AT gets to make? Would AT have been able to decide on a trial without having an internal rupture? Within less than 5 years?

    Can we see some equally quick decisions about some really important things without having to put them through the AT machinery?

  6. Very good point.
    “I also suspect the charging model, paying by the minute, helps encourage some of the more dangerous behaviour as being held up by lights or pedestrians translates to a monetary cost so they get ridden faster and/or more aggressively”

    A better way to fix it is pay by distance traveled with a session time limit.

      1. Yep would be better to have lower rate for stopped time at lights etc. Would encourage better behaviour. And charge by distance could reduce the speeds

  7. Does anyone have any information on what has happened to the onzo bikes? While I’m aware that ever since launch they’ve gradually become dispersed and some taken out of circulation, this appears to have accelerated rapidly over the past few weeks/months. There are now almost no available bikes downtown and when you scroll the map around greater auckland there are still very few. At a guess potentially less than 100 (just extrapolated estimate from the area’s I checked). Of those on the map, the few I tried to hire were either not there or seriously compromised and unridable (e.g. missing a seat). Does anyone have further info on whats going on and why? CHeers

    1. It is a management issue, look at lime and look at onzo:

      The reason why lime is successful is because every night the “juicers” will pick them up, charge it, check it, and drop it off to useful places.
      So the next day the lime scooters are always available in place that people needs and it always works.

      Where as the onzo bike, people just drop it off into weird place that makes it hard for other people to use. Also they don’t maintain it and let the bike deteriorate. The customers either couldn’t find the bike or found the broken bike. Eventually the customer just gave up.

      1. And I imagine they have realised that scooters are the best option for short journey ride share and are trying to build an offering for that. Hopefully something decent like the Xiaomi but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

  8. Dear Greg N and others can you please stop dressing up your ‘opinion’ as collective ‘desire’. Use the phrase ‘I would like to see’ instead of ‘We need’. Your use of the word ‘We’ implies that you also speak for me and your use of the word ‘need’ implies a you speak for a higher authority. I love to read all the different opinions on this blog and long may your collective diversity in thoughts continue though plus don’t get to think of your opinions as more than that. (Documented citations aside)

  9. Lime model suits the central city but for the suburbs probably better to have the charging stations at rail stations and shopping centres so that devices are dispersed though the suburb ready for use in the morning.

  10. “Ride and dump” is an utterly stupid approach – they could easily have proper pickup/dropoff terminals to avoid street clutter and make a more reliable pickup option for users. A terminal could also charge and check the condition of the scooter leading to fewer rightoffs. Little more than a bike stand+parking meter.

    I fear Lime’s model is ruining scooting for the rest of the population. Im looking to buy at an E-scooter but one i can carry onto bus/ferry/trains and use for short trips – I think this is the sensible future use case for scooters – it’s like a bicycle, but better because – can wear any clothin, no sweat, no helmet, and can carry and fold up smaller and can carry things like a shopping bag or briefcase easily.. .

    1. Both approaches have a place, I think. But I would far prefer the second one too… be good to have a design that could be easily wheeled along in its folded up state, for when you need to walk, for whatever reason.

  11. Are any dedicated parking slots in busy central city streets part of the extended trial period?

    A full rollout surely has to address ditched scooters on walkways imperiling other pedestrians, especially disabled Aucklanders.

  12. I really Hope ONZO can get their product better for Auckland. They need:> 1.) Proper marketing, 2.) proper mikes made for people over 5 foot I cant ride them. 3.) a better payment option ideally using a Hopcard to swipe and ride them etc for one hour $5 dollars etc. They really need to update some ideas and gety them rolling. Bikes are still the solution not scooters.

  13. I really Hope ONZO can get their product better for Auckland. They need:> 1.) Proper marketing, 2.) proper bikes made for people over 5 foot, hills and softer faster road tyres = I cant ride them. 3.) A better payment option ideally using a Hopcard to swipe and ride them etc for one hour $1 dollar etc. They really need to update some ideas and get them rolling. Bikes are still the solution not scooters.

  14. Noticed the other day when working in town – three guys ride up to a bus stop on Lime scooter, park them and hop on an orange circular route bus. I think they are here to stay in one form or another.

  15. I have been thinking about dockless bikes and scooters purely from a geometric perspective. I would have thought it would be worthwhile for Lime to install a small docking station near major bus stops, train stations, ferry terminals, or other high use points (Maybe Mission Bay, or in the middle of UoA?). Lime could offer say $1 back if the scooter is left in the stand. Riders get a sweet dollar and Lime gets scooters returned to a charge point, easier collection for their mechanics, a visible street presence, and a simple pick up point for people trying to rent at the docking station, AT/AC get reduced street clutter at busy locations.

    It would seem that building docks and offering a discount to use them offers some of the benefits of docked and dockless operation. Perhaps AC could install the docks and make them available to all operators? AC could charge a levy on the scooter owners that is ringfenced for infrastructure for them, ACC could charge an injury levy, and then the government get’s their share through GST.

    1. A dock full of “juiced” out Lime’s may look nice and tidy, but are actually pretty worthless to anyone.

      Docks really should offer some sort of recharge capability as well, to maximise the benefits so that the docked Limes are kept able to be used.

      That comes with a raft of costs [like a power connection] and consenting requirements etc.
      So may not fit Lime’s “ride and dump” model or general ethos.

      Certainly Lyft is actively promoting docks for higher traffic areas overseas for their e-scooters, thanks to the knowledge they picked up from a docked-bike operator they bought a while back.

      But Lyft aren’t operating here yet. And may never do so.

      1. Sorry, I should have been more clear that the dock would have charging capabilities. It would only need building consent though. It’s transport infra in a road corridor, so no resource consent is required.

        I don’t see how a dock full of juiced limes is worthless? Knowing exactly where to go to find a charged scooter when you leave a station or building seems worthwhile to me!

        I am aware that it doesn’t fit the ride and dump model, but AT/AC define the model through the trials terms and conditions. AT/AC could force the operators to pay for and enable/encourage the use of those facilities.

  16. I think the comments here cover the issues really well. Both discussions I’ve had with people and written articles seem quite polarised, whether in the NZ Herald or here on Greater Auckland. Especially SailorBoy seems to present a balanced fact-based view, which I appreciate. Heidi and Greg N too. (With one minor exception. I’d like to see a reference that scooter companies recoup less than half the cost of a scooter before they’re written off – I can’t imagine a business owner stupid enough to continue if that is the case.) And all the one-off commenters too. Good to see!

    1. Chris re: my comment on Lime et al failing to recoup costs of the e-scooters:

      In Auckland the current situation with regards profits per scooters may be better than average due to the newness/novelty factor but the truth or otherwise may not be known yet for Auckland or NZ for Lime operations. I’d expect that AT/AC get a good look at those numbers before approving any license beyond end of March to see if it really is sustainable or not.

      Buts here’s some background reading for ya from these companies overseas (US mostly) operations. Google the rest up yourself.

      A Techcrunch story from just before Christmas 2018 on the US e-scooter business:

      It refers to a WSJ (Wall Street Journal) story which is one source of the claim about not recouping original e-scooter investment cost before the scooters are “used up”.
      The Financial Times also reported a similar situation.

      SuperPedestrian (Makers of the famous Copenhagen Wheel for making any bike an e-bike) also reports this, hence their business plan to bring out a more robust e-scooter that is built tough enough to last and repair itself to last 15 or so months to make sure the cost is recouped.

      This one from The Verge has a similar take and reports some real “numbers” from operator Bird.

      And it links to a “The information” story on Birds economics, and is stated plainly like this:

      “Bird said it provided 170,000 rides per week in the first week of May. The company had around 10,500 “active” scooters during that period, and each one was used five times per day. Active scooters generate $3.65 in revenue per ride, the company said. Meanwhile, Bird spent $1.72 per ride on charging costs, and another $0.51 per ride, on average, on repairs. That doesn’t include credit card fees, permit fees, insurance, customer support, and other costs. So in May, Bird was pulling in about $602,500 in weekly revenue, offset by $86,700 in maintenance costs. That means Bird was eking out $0.70 in profit per ride, or a 19 percent gross profit margin.”

      70 cents US gross profit a ride for the acknowledged early mover in the e-scooter business is not a lot of money. If these “consumer grade” e-scooters last mere months [lets be generous and say 3 months], and are used 5 times a day each and every day. Then you will be marginal at best.

      And Lime itself is reporting losing over $US 23 million per month in the second half of 2018. Projected to drop to around $11 m a month as of the start of 2019. Lime already used up its previous round of cash raising and is out scouting for more.

      Hardly sustainable, even for a “grow like crazy” business. But I and others too, it seems, suspect a lot of the cost growth of Lime is not servicing new markets – but in fact keeping the existing markets supplied with sufficient working e-scooters.

      The e-scooter business has a lot of moving parts, way more so than Uber. The usual comparison some use as the yardstick.

      but Uber is at its heart a “ride platform”. All the infrastructure for keeping the cars licensed, on the road and refuelled etc is borne solely by the driver/owner of the car. Not Uber. Uber don’t buy or own anything much.

      As a result they can and likely are a lot more profitable in comparison to companies like Lime,
      As its not that way for e-scooters as they stand are a labour intensive industry to keep juiced and serviced and re-placed in the right locations so they are all ready for the next day. Losses will not just be from breakage and damage but also from vandalism and outright theft too.

      All these issues place huge opportunity costs on the business and its margins, because a e-scooter not out in the field waiting to be hired/ridden or actually being ridden is one able to and/or not earning any money for its owner.

      So yes, I feel quite valid in claiming the business models of Lime, Lift, Bird etc are simply not sustainable right now. And its not just me saying so.

      They are all in expansion mode to try and grab markets and mind share and then sell out to someone else with deeper pockets – before the mergers and closures begin.

      Does that sound like a sustainable situation to you?

      1. That’s a concern for their shareholders and management, not you, and doesn’t justify opposing the concept.

        The other thing that is coming through in the comments is that it is somehow dirty or shameful to be trying to make a profit.

        Innovation and the profit motive is part of how resources are effectively allocated across society, nothing immoral about it. And how many of the posters on here are high earners whose salaries couldn’t be jusitifed if their own companies weren’t making a profit? Gross hypocrisy.

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