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Watch out – 800 e-scooters for hire in Wellington

News from WCC
Electric scooters for hire will start appearing on Wellington’s streets from Tuesday as a trial of the city’s e-scooter share scheme gets under way. Licences have been given to local start-up Flamingo and JUMP, the latter owned and operated by Uber, to provide 800 e-scooters (400 from each operator) for hire around the central city and suburbs.

Mayor Justin Lester welcomes the e-scooter share trial as part of the city offering more transport choices for residents and visitors to Wellington.

“The trial will let us discover how people might want to use this service in the context of Wellington, and how popular it is over time. It will also help us to determine the city’s policy around micro-mobility transport, which includes e-scooter and bike share schemes.

“There are big changes ahead for transport in Wellington and we are keen to look at different ways to encourage people to replace some private vehicle trips with a more sustainable option.”

The trial will last 18 months, with an evaluation after six months that will decide whether it continues or not. Consultation and engagement on a micro-mobility transport policy will take place during the following 12 months.

The Council will be assessing how well the scheme is working throughout the trial period, including safety, the number and duration of trips, where people go, and where scooters are parked.

The licence conditions include funding a campaign to encourage safe and courteous riding, and messages have been developed in conjunction with the Council. Teams from both operators will be out in the city from Tuesday to help people use the scooters in the right way and ride safely.

Councillor Chris Calvi-Freeman, the Council’s Portfolio Leader for Transport Strategy, says a code of practice will guide the safe implementation of the trial, including restrictions on how and where people can ride.

“We’ll be monitoring the trial closely, with a particular focus on maintaining safety for everyone. Footpaths remain an area where pedestrians have priority and e-scooter riders will be encouraged to use the road where it is safe to do so.

“At the moment, e-scooters cannot legally be ridden in approved bike lanes so Council officers are looking into whether the status of the existing bike lanes in the city can be changed retrospectively.”

To hire an e-scooter, people have to download an app from Flamingo or JUMP, create an account and log in to find the nearest scooter. Helmets are not provided but riders are strongly encouraged to wear one. All scooters come with front and rear lights.

The licence conditions require operators to set electronic boundaries (geo-fencing) for where the scooters can’t be ridden. This will be used to enforce a ban on hiring e-scooters within the busy Courtenay precinct after 9pm, Friday to Sunday, and on the evenings before public holidays, by disabling scooters parked in that area after 9pm.

Other no-go zones are the footpath along the Golden Mile (on Lambton Quay starting from Whitmore Street along to Willis Street and along Manners Street); Cuba Mall; and the Botanic Gardens, including the Rose Garden and Anderson Park, Bolton Street Cemetery, Otari-Wilton’s Bush and Truby King Park.

People hiring an e-scooter are encouraged to park them out of the way of other people – the trip is easily finished when the user takes a photo on their phone to prove they have parked appropriately.

The e-scooters will be charged and redistributed around the city by Jump and Flamingo every night to avoid ‘bunching’, where lots of scooters are left in a few locations.

Councillors on the City Strategy Committee voted in favour of the trial in February. The two companies were selected following an evaluation of all of the five operators who submitted proposals. The selection process included an independent evaluator.

15 comments:

  1. Kelly McGonagal, 17. June 2019, 13:08

    A terribly unsafe combination – no helmets and fast electric scooters. It’s bad enough that drunk people bike home using the Onzos with no helmets (and in Courtenay Place). Now we’ll get drunk people on fast electric scooters. How many injuries, accidents and deaths are required in order to reassess the Council’s ( corporate) pet projects? The only people who benefit here will be Uber while we pick up the tab.
    So much for encouraging walking.

     
  2. greenwelly, 17. June 2019, 13:40

    At the moment, e-scooters cannot legally be ridden in approved bike lanes. So given this, and this and this: “electric scooters are not ridden on the CBD footpaths or suburban centre footpaths unless it is unsafe to do otherwise.” We have a situation of it being illegal (and thus presumably unsafe) to ride an e-scooter on Featherston Street, so therefore it is presumably fine on the footpath…”Watch out” indeed.

     
  3. Manny, 17. June 2019, 13:53

    Watch out is right!
    And what are the ratepayers’ costs for this?

     
  4. Brendan, 17. June 2019, 15:28

    And why are people riding the yellow bikes without helmets? It’s one rule for the people who buy their own bike and one for rentals. Can we make it non mandatory for everyone?

     
  5. Alan, 18. June 2019, 9:10

    Lord help the bus drivers. They have enough to contend with now! Now there’s another level of stupidity to contend with.

     
  6. TrevorH, 18. June 2019, 9:44

    The “code of practice” is a legal nonsense. The Council has no way of monitoring it or enforcing compliance, just as they are unable (and unwilling?) to deal with dangerous cyclists on the waterfront. They should be held liable for any injuries or deaths that result from this decision.

     
  7. Mark Cubey, 18. June 2019, 10:00

    As veteran Onzo riders, the son and I were keen to investigate the free Flamingo Scooter demo on the waterfront, and rated them a solid 8/10. It wasn’t a proper test, as the speed was limited to 16kph instead of the maximum 25kph, but once the turning cycle was mastered, the scooters are very easy and stable to ride. The scooters are made by Segway, and are solid and sleek. The recommendation to use the handle-sited front brake was solid, but it’s good to have the foot-operated back brake as well. [via twitter]

     
  8. Mark Spencer, 18. June 2019, 10:43

    The Council surely must know they are unsafe especially when they are unregulated. Do they feel that they have no liability?

     
  9. Brett Hudson, 18. June 2019, 11:44

    Just tried a Flamingo e-scooter in Welly. Very cool. Used appropriately & courteously, e-scooters are a great thing for personal mobility. [via twitter]

     
  10. Daniel Harborne, 18. June 2019, 11:46

    We really need to ramp up efforts to build separated cycle/scooter lanes. It’s increasingly becoming an option for many people, reducing the need for car/parking lanes. E-scooters are here to stay, but just need their own separate space. [via twitter]

     
  11. Chris Horne, 18. June 2019, 16:05

    Pedestrians, whether able-bodied or not so nimble, risk becoming like skittles if e-scooters are allowed on our footpaths. Imagine being hit by one of these vehicles. Even though they are to be limited to 15 km/hr, that is over three times the speed of a quick walker. The potential for serious injury to a pedestrian if hit by an e-scooter is enormous.

    The Wellington City Council must urgently adopt a by-law prohibiting the use of e-scooters on our footpaths, in the city and in our suburbs. Pedestrian safety must have priority over commercial interests and the interests of the users of e-scooters.

     
  12. Jeff, 7. July 2019, 18:34

    Tested one today. What a great way to reduce air pollution that kills more people worldwide than disease, war and famine. Also reduces global warming that is now a measured reality, noise pollution, parking and traffic congestion, saves time, and saves on parking costs. They are a no brainer.

     
  13. Jane C, 8. July 2019, 6:51

    Agree Chris they are bloody dangerous and used by people who would be otherwise walking safely… another hazardous congestion on the footpath.

     
  14. Dave B, 8. July 2019, 14:07

    Does anyone know how these scooters are recharged and maintained? Are they gathered-up every night by a fleet of fossil-fuel-powered trucks, taken back to base somewhere for charging, then driven back to the streets each morning? Or are they serviced on the roadside wherever they have been left, by roving ‘charger-trucks’ equipped with petrol-driven generators to provide charging-power? Or are they as “green” as they claim to be, with not a sniff of fossil fuel involved anywhere? Anyone know?

     
  15. Guy M, 8. July 2019, 16:36

    Dave B – yes, you’re pretty much there. The scooter-wranglers go out at night, tracking down the place of all scooters via their GPS locators, and take them away for re-charging / redistribution onto more suitable locations – i.e. out of the lagoon and onto street corners. Apparently it is a very sought-after job – you get a van and zip around in the night.