Shared e-scooters have been in Auckland for seven months (today) and already resulted in a significant shift in how many people get around. Yesterday the council announced they will be for at least another five months til the end of October as part of a new trial announced yesterday – we learnt this was coming last month. The new trial will also see a third e-scooter operator hit the streets. Two other e-scooter companies applied for licences but didn’t get them.
Lime, Wave and newcomer Flamingo are the three e-scooter operators that will participate in the phase two e-scooter trial in Auckland.
Auckland Council and Auckland Transport (AT) have completed an application process for the second trial and selected the successful operators from a total of five applicants. The trial runs until 31 October 2019.
Auckland Council Licensing and Regulatory Compliance General Manager Craig Hobbs is leading the trial programme and says he is impressed with the way the programme has progressed since e-scooters were first suggested for Auckland’s streets.
“This time last year, we had barely heard of e-scooter ride-share schemes, let alone anticipated having fleets of e-scooters on our streets and footpaths.
“Since mid-October 2018, we have learned a huge amount about how these businesses work, public uptake and perception of e-scooters and how our own licensing framework supports micro-mobility ride-share initiatives like this.
“That work continues in this second phase trial where we will see how three operators share the market over six months,” says Mr Hobbs.
It’s good to see a new trial and also a new operator, which they say will roll out on the week beginning 9-June. As part of the new trial, there are also some changes coming with the most notable for users being slow-speed zones (Wave has been doing this for a while)
Operators offer limited speed zones
The new code of practice encourages operators to introduce slow-speed zones via geofencing. This automatically reduces the scooters’ speed in nominated areas, improving the safety of users and pedestrians.
Mr Ellison says the council and AT cannot impose speed limits through this licence process so operator-initiated geofencing is important for public safety.
“We were heartened to see that each operator proposed geo-fencing in their applications.
“Slow-speed zones in high use areas makes it safer for e-scooter users and pedestrians to share footpaths and for riders to use road and cycle ways.
“Lowered speeds are also a reminder to scooter users that they are in an area where they must take extra care, always on the lookout for others,” he says.
The council has taken on board feedback from disability groups, including the vision impaired, when recommending slow-speed zones – for example, the precinct around the Blind Foundation in Parnell.
The following areas will be geo-fenced. Riders will notice scooters slow to 15 kmph when entering or starting their journey in a slow-speed zone.
- Ponsonby Road
- Jervois Road (College Hill to Curran Street)
- Karangahape Road
- CBD including Queen Street and waterfront area
- Auckland City Hospital precinct
- Parnell (including the Blind Foundation precinct)
- Mission Bay
- St Heliers
There’s something not right in our transport system when we’re able to set and enforce speed limits on small devices like scooters based on them passing a virtual boundary and yet there is barely any enforcement on the multi-ton vehicles that actually killing and seriously injuring people every day. Not to mention that even the slightest hint at changing existing speed limits for them or adding safety features like speed tables, invokes heated opposition.
I also think these slower speed zones could end up having unintended consequences. In particular, I think it means scooter riders are much more likely to be on footpaths dodging pedestrians than on the road or in cycle lanes because they will be much slower cars and even bikes in many cases. I wonder if this will encourage more people to buy their own e-scooters?
As part of this new trial we should also start to see e-scooters further out from the central city too with a new tier to focus on the outer suburbs (map below) and Lime and Flamingo able to put up to 375 e-scooters in it. My guess is these will be focused around major PT stations.
The numbers of scooters allowed in each zone above are:
As part of the new trial, the council will be collecting larger licence fees. The amounts each company pay are based on how many scooters will be in each Tier. In total over six months they expect to collect almost $47k which they say goes back into the licensing and compliance monitoring programme.