Last Friday Auckland Council temporarily revoked Lime Scooter’s licence, due to a series of mechanical faults that caused some scooters’ wheels to lock up – leading to a few pretty nasty crashes and injuries.
Auckland Council bosses have today suspended Lime scooters’ license temporarily and warned the company to rectify a safety defect or risk permanently losing access to the city.
Council bosses met representatives from the Lime this afternoon to discuss safety concerns before announcing the suspension.
Dunedin was quick to follow in Auckland’s footsteps and withdrew Lime e-scooters with immediate effect late this afternoon.
The decisions follow a number of recent incidents, some of which have resulted in injuries, caused by the wheels on e-scooters unexpectedly locking.
Auckland Council chief operating officer Dean Kimpton said Lime advised that it has identified 155 reported irregular braking incidents that may have been caused by the unexpected locking issue.
Ninety-two of these were in Auckland. Of these, 30 resulted in injury.
Following this explanation, Kimpton said Lime’s license had been reviewed and temporarily suspended.
“Myself and Auckland Transport chief executive Shane Ellison have given careful consideration to the most appropriate next steps.
“We have been clear with Lime representatives that the equipment used on our transport network must be safe for use,” Kimpton said.
As of yesterday, the ban hadn’t been lifted as the Council and Auckland Transport were still unconvinced the issue had been resolved.
We have been really supportive of Lime since they launched late last year. This includes supporting them through some rather silly objections – and pointing out the hypocrisy of some in being super-concerned about Lime scooters while hardly batting an eyelid at the 300 people killed per year by cars on the country’s roads.
While our support of e-scooters as a great new addition to the transport mix remains unchanged, Lime have behaved pretty irresponsibly over the past week or so, both before and after their license was suspended. Unlike other safety issues, the most recent problem appear entirely caused by faulty equipment and Lime should have responded like we would expect a car manufacturer to (or any other product maker) – by temporarily suspending their operations (the equivalent of recalling vehicle models with a fault), checking their equipment, getting it tested independently and only then starting back up. By essentially ignoring the issue it was inevitable the Council would act the way they have.
Lime made things even worse for themselves by subsequently setting up an email spam of the Mayor and Councillors, which has enormously backfired. Highly supportive councillors like Richard Hills have just been annoyed by this approach:
Hey @limebike I’m a councillor who has been backing you & I use Lime too.
I’ve got 1600 emails from your app so far.
I can’t even reply to supporters as it’s just one email address?
This won’t get other councillors onside.
Suspension is due to your defect not Lime opposition.
— Richard Hills (@richardhills777) February 23, 2019
So has Mayor Phil Goff.
Over the weekend, Lime prompted users via its app to contact the Mayor and Councillors. More than 4000 did, but Mr Goff said it’s been a waste of everyone’s time.
“I got 4000 or some damn thing emails over the weekend. None of that is going to influence the decision – this decision is not about politics, it’s about safety.”
It will be interesting to see where things go next. Maybe a more responsible e-scooter company might fill the gap left by Lime, or maybe Lime will return with a more responsible approach themselves?