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.

  • Takapuna
  • Devonport
  • 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)
  • Newmarket
  • Mission Bay
  • Kohimarama
  • 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:

Tier 1500200200900
Tier 2250200150600
Tier 32000175

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.

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  1. Interesting point of comparison: Auckland Council is charging significantly less in fees than the Christchurch City Council, which is charging scooter operators $86.25 per scooter. The Auckland rates max out at $35, and get cheaper in the outer tiers. Christchurch will actually make more money from Lime, despite having almost half as many scooters deployed.

  2. 375 shared e scooters spread between about 37 Public Transport hubs in zone 3… Would you take a train and hope for a scooter when you get there ?

    1. Julian, and when you make the journey from home to the train station in the morning will you expect a scooter to be there?
      There is something that says that this concept won’t work for the last km.

  3. I’m so relieved that we are finally doing something about the cause of all the pollution, noise, deaths and accidents and horrible urban streetscapes.

    What it really shows is that that cars are a protected species under law, and until that changes, nothing will change. Want to ACTUALLY make safety improvements? Huge consultation that takes months and is open to media scrutiny and whinging. Want to do the same for vehicles that are not even in the same magnitude of risk? A simple snap of the fingers.

  4. It’s not going to solve the main problem most people had with them, which is that it was something young people were enjoying and visibly using around them. The cheek of it all.

  5. Surprised there is no per-ride levy, as seen in overseas markets. It was mentioned by Lime execs and councillors in the coverage leading up to this new license.

    1. Timmy , they won’t do here because as this is election year they are scared people might not vote for them , but they forget the people that ride these modes of transport don;t vote as such in local body elections .

  6. In what way is this a trial? Is there some sort of data collection happening where they record the number of scooters left blocking the footpath? Or maybe the number of people who have been frightened by jerks riding straight at them on busy pedestrians crossings? Or is it a public relations trial where some prick has already decided we are having them and we will call it a trial until the fuss has died down?

    1. Sure some scooter users are reckless …
      But TBH the number of people I have almost seen getting hit at the Quay St crossing outside the ferry terminal and britomart by cars/vans/trucks is truly scary, and would cause a lot more harm than perhaps being hit by a scooter.
      If a scooter is blocking the footpath completely (I’m yet to see this though), it’s much easier to shift out of the way.
      Unlike the vehicles that block the footpath in a variety of locations on an almost daily basis. I wish they were easy to shift out of the way.

      1. I have started telling people off if they try to logoff the scooter in the middle of the walkway part of the Queen street footpaths. It has turned me into ‘that’ old bastard. I have seen numerous people stop walking and put their hands up protectively at the long diagonal crossing at Customs/Albert. People who walk shouldn’t have to put up with this shit.
        Perhaps we could have a metal grating on footpaths in the inner city like a cattle stop but perpendicular so it traps scooter wheels.
        Seriously I can’t believe the damage AT has done to Queen Street since they started. Noisy diesel buses and scooters littering the footpaths and arseholes swerving between pedestrians. Compare that to any mall where they try to make it a nice place to walk.

        1. Yep I would agree that Queen St footpaths should be pedestrian only. Gotta be the densest pedestrian traffic area in NZ?

        2. We don’t live in a state (thankfully) where the “authorities” are responsible for everything. Easy to blame AT for everything, whether it’s deserved or not. What about personal responsibility – we all have a choice as to whether we drive down Queen Street, whether we scooter down the footpath at 25 km/h?

          As for the buses that allegedly clog up Queen Street, the majority of them are a direct result of the CRL works. AT had to divert buses that previously used Albert Street, and their choices effectively were Queen Street . . . or Nelson Street. It doesn’t surprise me that Queen Street was chosen for this – there would have been howls of protest if all the western buses had been forced to use Nelson Street inbound. And remember also that this isn’t the long term plan. When light rail comes in . . . all will change. At least, that’s the plan.

          Let’s also be grateful that the footpaths in Queen Street are sooo much wider than they were a few years ago. Having said that, yes, there is a real problem for pedestrians with scooters, and I don’t believe that the measures announced so far go nearly far enough.

        3. We used to live in a city where the Council was responsible for ensuring Queen Street had some amenity for visitors and people working in the area. Now we don’t. Instead nobody ensures there is any amenity. We have AT who manage Queen Street with the goal of getting more people along it. They have achieved that by shoving all the buses, that were opposed by earlier Councils, onto Queen Street, by licensing businesses to use the footpaths to park scooters on without paying their true cost and by allowing wankers who would be better off walking to ride vehicles on busy footpaths. The person count travelling along Queen St has increased so AT have succeeded in their narrow remit. But it used to be that the goal was to make Queen Street a destination not a thoroughfare.

        4. As I said, the buses on Queen Street are a temporary phenomenon. Where would you suggest that they went instead?

        5. The council is now rightly more concerned about creating the proper amenity for the large population who live around queen street and travel in via mass transit as opposed to the minority who still think its their unassailable right to drive and park anywhere they so choose.

        6. @miffy wankery is in the eye of the beholder. And with your small minded prejudice against modes you don’t happen to use, here’s looking at you kid

        7. “Perhaps we could have a metal grating on footpaths in the inner city like a cattle stop but perpendicular so it traps scooter wheels.”
          No thanks they would also be great for trapping people’s walking sticks (my Dad uses one thanks to being hit by a car), high heels not to mention wheels on push chairs and wheelchairs. It would be adding a fall hazard for the elderly and the blind that you are trying to provide a safer environment for. Sounds like an own goal to me.

        8. Easy fix for Queen St, could be ready next month:

          1) Ban private vehicles, reprogram the lights and throw up a couple of no turn signs on cross streets.

          2) Fill in the parking bays up to footpath level with ashphat, and make the full width out to the kerb pedestrian only.

          3) drop some concrete separators in the kerbside lanes and make them bikes and scooters only. Hatch across the lane in front of the bus stops with rumble strips.

          4) run buses in the inner lanes only.

          More ped space, dedicated person-sized-vehicle space, busway in one go. Job done.

        1. Blocking a path completely I said, I’ve always managed to either move one (yes I’m fortunate enough to be able to do so), or walk around one without putting myself in harms way, ie stepping onto a road like I often have to do when walking around parked cars in entrance ways etc …
          And yes I walk around the CBD quite frequently.

        2. “I’ve always managed to either move one (yes I’m fortunate enough to be able to do so), or walk around one without putting myself in harms way”

          How lovely for you that you can do both those things. Probably not a good basis for setting a universal policy though, wouldn’t you agree?

  7. speed limiting is such a fucking joke lmao.
    how about taking notice that the biggest problem by far is the impact on pedestrian space when they are parked and reallocating some on street carparks.

    1. There’s already an apparently smooth process in place reallocating parking spots for CityHop carshare. (Does CityHop pay for these, btw?)

      Should use this same process to reallocate a bunch of spots to bikeshare and scootershare

      1. the wider benefits of making carshare accessible have to be worth more to the city than the financial returns of onstreet parking.
        The markings are also technically for any carshare not solely cityhop’s.

        I had heard Cr Darby, WLB’s Pippa Coom etc were working on AT to convert some of the Queen St 15min spaces to scooters and Bike racks.

        The speed thing is just so stupid though, 15km/h can still be too much for the crowded footpaths targeted but will ensure it’s impossible to ride on the road.
        Which in turn ensures the street environment in the city will remain cramped, car-dominated, high speed and high danger.
        Couldn’t have undermined their own message more.

        1. I’m sure they put in hard work jumping many hurdles to get to where they’re at. What I mean is that now that there is a process in place, it should have set a precedent for other services to have carparks reallocated.

  8. It would be really good if the companies repositioned machines to rapid transit stations in the afternoon for the evening last mile rush. Much more important than having them there in the morning. Could really help make transit more useful for those faced with transferring from a rapid service to a less frequent one to get home…

  9. Seems odd that tier 3 is about 5x larger than tier 1&2 combined yet has less scooters than either of them.

  10. Just like the speed limit for passing a parked school bus, I’d like to see the government clarify rules for wheeled devices on footpaths, and something like a 10km/h limit or “walking pace” or similar, when there are pedestrians.
    15km/h or more on a footpath past pedestrians or people waiting for a bus is too fast.

  11. It concerns me that so few seem to be concerned about pedestrian safety and scooters. Yes, I know that cars are dangerous too, but let’s just leave them aside for the moment. As an inner-city dweller I walk along K Rd and other central streets every day several times. When you consider how many people use the footpaths in K Rd, a speed limit on scooters is not just a “nice-to-have” for these pedestrians, but essential. I celebrate the fact that they will be limited to 15 km/h, though my personal preference would be for 10 km/h. Twice walking speed is surely not unreasonable as a limit in a highly-trafficked area? I have lost count of the number of times I’ve literally had to jump out of the way of a speeding scooterer (is that a word?) weaving their way through the pedestrians. Hell, it’s hard enough to get through pedestrians while walking at about 5 km/h when so many are dawdling at around 2 km/h! As for 15 km/h on a motorised device . . .

    I’m a really strong supporter of the principle of having scooters for the “last mile” or “about town” trips. Even to the point of almost falling out with some of my more conservative friends. But they shouldn’t come without any restrictions on their use, especially where safety is concerned. To me there should be two rules for scooters:
    (1) Use at any speed on the road as long as you are wearing a helmet.
    (2) Use at max 10 km/h on footpaths, with an explicit understanding that pedestrians ALWAYS have the right of way.

    I know some will take issue with scooterers, like cyclists, being required to wear a helmet on the road. I just don’t get the antipathy toward helmet use when we are all over road safety and pedestrian safety when it comes to other vehicle types. When a compilation of 40 separate helmet safety studies by the UNSW shows a reduction of 70% in serious head trauma as a consequence of helmet use, then surely we have to sit up and take note. We accept (most of us) that seat belts in cars are a Good Thing, and you don’t hear arguments against it on the basis that requiring seat belts will disincentivise car use. So why do cycle/scooter advocates effectively argue by implication that increasing participation in these modes outweighs the possible consequences of head trauma?

    If the hire companies want their vehicles to be able to be used on the roads, then they’ll provide helmets like Onzo do. If they don’t want that hassle, then their scooters will be limited to the footpath (and by implication, to 10 km/h). Either way is good for me.

    1. We are definitely not ‘all over road safety and pedestrian safety when it comes to other vehicle types’ though which is why this is galling.
      If you walk k rd you surely see the speeding, the red light running at Pitt st, the long pedestrian dwell times for the sake of few cars, the narrowness of footpaths yet on street parking spaces. It’s literally the most dangerous traffic environment in the city.
      The 30km speed limit proposal got postponed, like the pedestrian improvements/separated cycleways, which would both do much more for pedestrians than this. as you say the difference between 15 and 25 isn’t going to change much for pedestrian safety, but who can ride on the road now even if/when the speed limit drops. It’s not helmets.

      Who actually made this decision? is it AT’s professional opinion? the Mayor? just an idea from the licensing department? For all the daily conjecture we have such little leadership in our ‘supercity’ it’s depressing.

      They foist responsibility for it onto disability advocates when they aren’t doing anything for scooter parking which was voiced in the same breath.

      The announcement of Free PT weekends for under 15’s proposed in Mayor’s budget was a really good sign they could acknowledge the potentials and externalities of their decisions but this is a fucking doozy.

      1. Yep, I see it all, every single day. And AT are installing cameras, creating cycleways, installing speed tables, removing street parking ,lowering (hopefully) vehicle speeds, educating kids etc etc about road safety, which is surely what we would expect of them to improve road safety. Sure, the budget is inadequate to meet the need (when was that ever not so?) but you cannot argue that they’re sitting on their hands, even if you think they could be smarter/faster/more authoritarian about it.

        But any which way, this surely isn’t a reason for doing nothing about scooter safety – for both riders and pedestrians. Such as limiting their speeds on footpaths and requiring helmet use on roads.

        1. this is antithetical to scooter safety for riders and pedestrians though. the only way is separated infrastructure or a safer road environment. you are celebrating changes which will force more pedestrian/scooter conflict. no one was actually going 25 on the pavement, but now there will be everyone who was on the road before going 15.
          I do think 3 years of delays to the K rd project and the wider cycleway programme looks a lot like sitting on their hands.

        2. Unfortunately there’s a technical problem here. You can electronically throttle scooters in a particular area using GPS. But GPS technology isn’t good enough to detect whether a ride is on the footpath or on the road. So you can’t have an electronic limit.

          Central govt could pass a legal limit on scooter speed with cops fining people who break it. I don’t know how effective it would be but overall I would be in favour of that if they also legalize scooters on bike paths and bus lanes. Currently it’s legal to ride on the road, or the footpath, but not in bike lanes or bus lanes, which seems perverse! Those are the best places for them.

      2. Just a further comment. As you say, “who can ride on the road now even if/when the speed limit drops.” The logical implication of that is that, even with helmets, cyclists are taking their lives into their hands on roads like K Road as they are now. And if it’s unsafe, then to be anti-helmet makes no sense.

        Let’s continue to push for all those good things that will make cycling genuinely safe. But we all know that the cycle safety budget competes with so many other demands for funds that it ain’t going to happen overnight. Meanwhile, to add another road user (scooters) into the existing mix of traffic without requiring helmets like cyclists are required to, seems the height of folly – especially when a sizeable portion of scooter riders, especially in suburban areas, are kids.

        I’ll be the first to argue for no helmets for cyclists and scooterers when our road conditions make it safe. But not before then.

        1. You’ve typed a lot David, but are yet to show any evidence other than your opinion.

          FYI – I wear a helmet and am happy to.

        2. Your helmet obsession and saying that scooter riders are ‘kids’ speaks volumes.
          Active modes compete in budgets because of the priorities set. If there were less crowing about helmets and footpath speeds there might be room for an evidence based debate.

    2. David, this article might make things a bit clearer.

      “Our goal is to get the crash rates down, and we already know how to do that: restrict car traffic or at least reduce their speeds. So why aren’t we doing just that already? Why are we wasting our energy on cultural safety?… Cultural safety is a show, a staging that says: Look, we are doing something about safety!”

      1. The article lost me at the point where it said “Even just promoting bicycle helmets deter people from cycling, because it makes cycling seem a dangerous activity.” Well, surely cycling IS dangerous, especially the way things are on the roads now, and to suggest otherwise is foolhardiness in the extreme. Yes, by all means let’s aim for the utopia in which cars are few and far between, and cyclists and pedestrians predominate. But let’s not base our safety criteria on what things could/should be like in future, but base them on what the situation is now, which is that cycling is dangerous. And it’s the reason why we’re all agitating for cycle lanes as a matter of priority.

        And the same should apply to scooters as well. At least we’re at ground floor level with scooters, and have the opportunity to make things safe from the outset. Which is today, not in our utopian future.

        1. That point is explained in literally the next paragraph. You get a small positive effect (someone may save his life by wearing a helmet) and a larger negative effect (less life expectancy due to lack of activity)

        2. Umm, there are many ways of increasing physical activity – it’s not cycling or nothing. But there’s only one way to stop brain damage when your head hits the road, and that’s to provide some protection. Sorry, I just don’t buy the argument that is implicit – that a cyclist will not consider other forms of physical activity if they are required to wear a helmet. Nor do I accept there is any sort of equivalence that can be drawn between the impact of brain trauma and the impact of less physical activity. Try telling that to the parents of a “child” I know who has knocked down aged 5 and is now 20 with a mental age of 3. I don’t mean to emotionalise the argument, but we can’t just consider these issues in the abstract – there are real lives at stake.

        3. There are many ways to increase physical activity, but children’s healthy development of social, cognitive, spatial processing and risk management skills, (and much more) requires a safe traffic environment so they can be independently mobile. Those developmental processes can’t be replicated by being driven to a soccer practice.

          What’s preventing action on the biggest factors for a safe traffic environment (traffic reduction and speed reduction) is public preoccupation with what the author of that article calls “cultural safety”.

          You’re genuinely concerned about head injuries; I know that. You’re also unwittingly prolonging the attention on “cultural safety” which is a diversion from acting to improve “real safety”.

          Give the article another try, David, and try to get out of the mindset of the need for “personal actions”, and into the mindset of what it is the authorities should do, based on population-wide effects.

          Don’t be surprised if people get frustrated if the discussion becomes mired in things that the evidence shows barely figure in the statistics.

        4. The problem is that “real safety” requires huge amounts of investment, a serious reduction in the number of vehicles on our roads, and a shift in the mindset of the cretins who consider cyclists to be the #1 menace on the road. It will be great, but it’s a decades-long initiative.

          Wearing a helmet, on the other hand, is in the “cultural safety” basket, but can be implemented instantaneously. There are cyclists and scooter riders out there NOW who are at risk. Should we mollify them with the promise that “we will improve your road infrastructure in five/ten years, and not wearing a helmet is OK in the meantime,” or should we say “there is a risk now, and we need to deal with it in the most practical short-term way we can while we move to invest the $gazillions we need to make things safer”?

          I absolutely agree that in our future utopia we will not need helmets. But right now . . .

        5. @DavidByrne “I absolutely agree that in our future utopia we will not need helmets. But right now . . .”

          The problem is we were sold the lie that all we needed to do to protect cyclists was make them wear a helmet. Too bad that majority of ‘accidents’ are caused by drivers inattention.

          Removing the law making them compolsary is not the same as banning them.

          Not every town has high traffic volumns like some of the roads in Auckland. The current helmet law is like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Hundreds of people die every year in New Zealand due to car accidents and you still think driving is safer than riding a bike.

    3. Totally agree. As a partly mobility impaired pedestrian, I think scooters on pavements are an awful hazard. I find it odd that many on this website seem somewhat oblivious to this.

      1. People are saying we should invest in cycleways/slow, low volume roads. They are also saying that the 15km/h will put more people on the footpath due to a greater speed difference on the roads. It’s a mix of what can be, and what we can best make of our of our crapy situation (which the 15km/h isn’t). People here are not oblivious.

  12. If they get lower speed, the time-based fare will goes up for the distance traveled, which may discourages people to use them at all.

    I still believe they should have a distance based fare instead of time based.

    1. Scooters are great. But they’re not so great that we owe the proprietors of Lime, Wave and Flamingo a duty to actively promote them, especially given they are a “mixed bag” in terms of safety and conflict with pedestrians in particular. If the safety requirements discourage some people from using them, so be it. Others will comply, all power to them.

    1. My comment is that e-scooters are surely a potential boon to people with chronic pain or other conditions who don’t want to walk everywhere.

      1. We already have a solution for that, mobility scooters. A lot of people that have chronic pain can’t stand for long so a e-scooter isn’t going to be a lot of benefit is it?

        1. However, at meetings we ran in 2017 I met people with disability and pain who used scooters as their preferred mode of transport. Push scooters, and with big wheels.

  13. How does the geofencing work, if i enter one of these zones on the roadway, will it limit my speed? So whereas before i was going with the flow of traffic, now i’m a sitting duck / unable to turn right.

    How about cars entering these zones, will they also be forced to slow down to 15km/h?

    Seems like a move to force scooters off the road and onto the footpath

    1. The scooters already have GPS, which makes geofencing possible with just a software update. The GPS receivers will be the same consumer grade ones used in smartphones so accuracy is +/- 10m in good conditions (not the CBD where tall buildings prevent a good view of the sky and create multipath problems). This prevents them differentiating between the footpath and the road. So scooters will be limited in the entire zone because the hardware doesn’t allow a more nuanced approach.

      1. I was in Queen St yesterday and surprised at the number of scooterers prepared to scooter on the road. I guess this will change that, as Roeland says.

        1. Ok just tried a wave that already has this ‘feature’.

          On Queen St, even with the speed limit its far faster to scoot down the empty road than on the busy footpath

        2. Not to mention a large number of people walking on the road. Queen Street is chockers and the footpaths are inadequate for people on foot, let alone scooteristas.

  14. That a very good point Dan C, that at 15km/h you can not mix with road traffic and the scooter is forced on the foot path to mix with pedestrian. I think the 15km/h max speed limit an outliner. A Comfortable biking speed is between 15 and 20 km/h, Paxster travel at 15km/h is said to be safe but can travel at up to 20km/h on foot path. Add the safe passing speed of stopped school bus being 20km/h. To me the 20km/h max is what has been politically acceptable normal for vehicles.

    The more importantly condition of using of scooters on the footpath should be same as the Paxter rule. Schedule 3: d) The operator of the vehicle must give way to all other footpath user:

    Which sound similar to the strict liability rule the Dutch have and I am repeatedly told we cannot have this type of rule in New Zealand. Or this already in the condition of use for these E-scooter

    1. We already have a Rule (since 2004) requiring e-scooters and other wheeled recreational devices to give way to pedestrians – see clause 11.1(5):

      The strict liability rule in the Netherlands BTW applies to resolving who pays insurance/medical costs in the case of a crash (of course, in NZ ACC takes care of half of that problem…) – it does not apply to traffic offences arising from such a crash.

    1. Where’s the mandatory speed monitoring devices for all vehicles? Surely if we’re going to strangle one in the interests of safety then all vehicles should be capable of measuring their speed.

  15. Frequent users should just buy their own scooter, they aren’t very expensive, if you rent them frequently you’ll end up paying more in the end.

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