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E-scooter renting to continue, with a speed limit on the waterfront

Wellington.Scoop
The Wellington City Council voted today to extend the licences for the city’s e-scooter rental companies till the end of the year. It also decided to restrict scooter speeds on shared waterfront pathways to 15kmh. The limit will be enforced by geo-fencing technology to be installed on the scooters.

News from WCC
Public share e-scooters will continue to operate on Wellington streets but with some changes including more dedicated parking spaces so e-scooters can be safely parked to help keep footpaths clear.

The Wellington City Council’s Strategy and Policy Committee voted unanimously today to continue the trial e-scooter share scheme that has been operating since June 2019 and also agreed in principle to the scheme continuing from 2021 when new expressions of interest from e-scooter companies would be sought.

As part of the trial, the Council undertook two evaluation surveys to gauge how Wellingtonians felt about the public share e-scooter schemes. More than 7000 people took part in the surveys with the results showing most people support public-share micro-mobility and think it is positive for the city.

Deputy Mayor and Associate Transport Portfolio Lead Sarah Free says on balance the e-scooters have been a valued transport choice for Wellington however the Council will be making some changes for the remainder of the trial period which ends on 31 December.

“It’s clear the e-scooters are being used for commuting and many people see them as a convenient option for making short trips around the city. They can also help to take the pressure off our public transport capacity, and reduce private car use and the city’s greenhouse gas emissions.”

The evaluation surveys show e-scooter parking is a major concern and Cr Free says the Council can make practical changes to improve the street environment for everyone. “The parking space at the railway station has been successful in managing e-scooters in this busy area and we’ll be working with the e-scooter companies in the next six months to put in similar low-cost parking in other parts of the city, including Oriental Bay. This will help to reduce clutter on footpaths and keep them clear for pedestrians. It will also make parking safer and easier for people using the e-scooters.”

In the longer term, the Council is hoping to trial more permanent e-scooter parking subject to funding from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency’s Innovating Streets Fund. This could include secure parking and charging modules that can be easily installed.

Councillors also agreed on a 15km/h speed limit for e-scooters on the waterfront and Oriental Bay shared paths, which would be enforced by geo-fencing technology, and that more detailed work will happen over the next few months in response to the feedback received from the evaluation of the e-scooter trial, before the current licences expire on 31 December.

Council officers will review and update the Trading in Public Places policy under which the e-scooters can operate and modify the code of practice for the e-scooter companies.

Cr Free says changes to the policy will be based on experience to date so the Council can better manage public-share micro-mobility such as e-scooters, and to select and monitor the companies operating them in the future. “Where possible, we should also be looking to give preference to local or New Zealand-owned companies.”

Other likely policy changes will include fees for operators, e-scooter parking requirements and enforcement penalties, a cap on the numbers of e-scooters that operators can have on the streets and any safety or rule changes that come out of the Accessible Streets review being undertaken by the Government. A revised Trading in Public Places policy will have to be approved by Councillors before new expressions of interest from e-scooter operators can be sought in late 2020.

Councillors also supported the continued rollout of infrastructure to support micro-mobility including the city’s cycleway network, and for future e-scooter providers to have clear ‘end-of-life’ plans for dismantling and recycling their scooters. The public surveys were just one of the ways the Council has gathered information that has been considered as part of the evaluation of the e-scooter trial. It also looked at ACC data, and feedback from accessibility groups, Flamingo and Jump, and feedback received through our contact centre.

Earlier Report from RNZ
Wellington city councillors will vote this morning on whether to allow e-scooter rental companies such as Flamingo to continue to operate in the city.

A survey done by the council showed the vast majority of people are in support of them, but people are also worried about the danger they pose – to the rider, and to pedestrians.

The presence of e-scooters on Wellington’s streets is something Ann Mallinson has to deal with on a daily basis. She lives on Oriental Bay, where it’s often a free-for-all: bikes, runners, skateboards, pedestrians, and now e-scooters all sharing the same space.

“It’s really quite dangerous on the Oriental Parade,” she said. “It isn’t just our area – people come from all over Wellington to Oriental Bay and walk round.”

A survey conducted over June to December last year showed her concerns are shared – 38 percent of the 6,000-plus who took part said they felt unsafe when sharing a footpath with e-scooters. Over the period, there were 539 reported crashes, about one third of which became a claim to ACC.

Mallinson – who’s the President of the Oriental Bay Residents Association – said they’ve reached out to the council previously to try and establish clear spacing on the Parade for all people.

“We suggested we went back ot the white line that they used to have on Oriental Parade about 15 years ago.

“And so you’d have wheeled traffic on one side: e-bikes and e-scooters and things; and pedestrians on the other. Anything is going to have the odd problem, but that’s what we would like.”

She said the idea was dismissed by the council.

Rentable e-scooters hit Wellington’s streets just last June, with two companies, JUMP and Flamingo, given licenses to operate for a six-month trial period.

Now, the decision has to be made on whether to make them a more permanent fixture.

The survey conducted during the trial was overwhelmingly positive of their overall impact. Around two thirds of those who participated had used an e-scooter, and the results showed over 60 percent said the scheme had a ‘positive’ or ‘very positive’ effect on the city.

Micromobility campaigner Oliver Bruce said it would be wrong for the city to turn its back on technological progress.

“Don’t think of this as being something that’s just annoying, and you want to get rid of. This is a wider transformation of our how our transport system will work. It’s really well paired to the short trips that most people make most of the time.

“Yeah, there are teething problems, but Wellington is the best city I can think of in New Zealand to adopt this new micromobility technology. We want them in the city, because they make it a way more fun and accessible city for everybody.”

What is happening on Wellington’s streets will be ironed out, he said.

“When the car originally came to the city, there were massive problems with it, as well. Where on earth did we park the cars? We didn’t in the beginning. People would just park them anywhere. Until we worked out that actually that wasn’t on, we wanted to have a bit of order to it, and so we developed a car park. We’re really at the very beginning stages of the same thing happening here.”

The survey also showed people were using e-scooters to replace car trips, or using taxis. Additionally, of the roughly 280 people surveyed with accessibility needs, 82 percent said they would intend to use them if they remained on the streets.

City councillor Dr Jenny Condie – who heads the roading and transport portfolio – said the answer could be in making the city more liveable for both the riders, and the walkers.

“NZTA are working on their accessible streets package that will propose to make it legal for scooters to go into bike lanes and that would make a big difference. We’re bringing in some pop-up bike lanes across the city as a response to Covid, so those sorts of things, providing alternative infrastructure, is really important.”

She said it helps in the short term that just Flamingo scooters are operating on the city’s streets, while Lime is currently in the process of buying JUMP.

The issue around e-scooter parking will also be looked at, with the council able to pursue the option of working with operators to implement low-cost parking solutions until more permanent options become available.

Jenny Condie: E-scooters – for or against?

8 comments:

  1. Alan, 21. May 2020, 11:30

    When scooters were first introduced, there was a council “rule” that they were not to be used on footpaths. That was ignored from day 1 and of course no enforcement. Two wheeled vehicles of any sort should use the road. Period.

     
  2. Dr Jenny Condie, 21. May 2020, 14:48

    Delighted that the e-scooter paper passed unanimously with a 15kph speed limit on the waterfront and Oriental Bay, which will be enforced by geo-fencing technology. Staff will now work with operators on a plan for implementing these changes, plus improvements for scooter parking!

     
  3. Mt Victoria, 21. May 2020, 15:07

    There is a 10km/h speed limit on the waterfront. Is WCC increasing that? [via twitter]

     
  4. Keith Flinders, 21. May 2020, 15:59

    I don’t suppose that the WCC understands what geo-fencing technology is about. If it was able to interact with the e-scooters and disable them when they exceed the speed limit, then that might be a start. Better still if it was also able to direct the ones discarded on footpaths to a safe marshalling location, that would be a step in the right direction.

    According to Google, geo-fencing technology is only accurate to within 100-200 metres and is used for targeted advertising. This latest lame brained WCC scheme sounds like the one we got from the GWRC telling us that battery buses were ideally suited for Wellington’s terrain when in fact the opposite was true.

     
  5. helen, 21. May 2020, 18:56

    15kph is far too fast as a top speed on the footpath for electric devices. Yes, some people can run that fast (which is why it has a bit of face validity), but:
    * People-on-wheels without the fuel constraints of people-on-feet are much more likely to spend a long time at close to the maximum speed than people-on-feet. Most people-on-feet on the footpath are unable/unwilling to go that fast for more than a few seconds, so people-on-wheels going that speed will increase the average speed on footpaths, and make them feel like less safe/restful environments.
    *people-on-feet going about 15kph have an emergency stopping distance of maybe 2-3m which is necessary for dealing with the unexpected things that happen on footpaths & pedestrians have a right to do in the expectation of safety — a toddler wandering, a pedestrian stops to look at a shop window or a seal or ….. People-on-wheels going at 15kph have a much longer stopping distance (I expect it’s closer to 10-15m). To get a wheeled vehicle to stop requires everything involved in getting a runner to stop and more: seeing the hazard, processing the necessity to stop, instructing the body to make the movements required to stop, and for the device to actually stop after all that as well.

    I think the maximum speed allowed for any people-on-wheels on the footpath should be largely dictated by matching the stopping distance of a jogger/runner.

     
  6. David Nicholls, 23. May 2020, 21:46

    I’m waiting for an e-scooter with a heat-pump on it, then I’d be a true narcissist for all the world to see and worship

     
  7. Kara, 24. May 2020, 13:42

    Before allowing e-scooters to be used on footpaths the WCC could have researched how fast pedestrians walk. It’s certainly not 15kph. Apart from the speed it’s the silent mode of travel. Therefore e-scooter users must be required to alert pedestrians before they pass.

     
  8. Tony Jansen, 24. May 2020, 13:46

    And whilst we have a speed limit on the waterfront and Oriental Parade, we have no regulation anywhere else. And Council is lauding this as some great success. What an absolute farce. This is largely pointless and will be universally ignored just like red light running at intersections and cell phone use in cars.
    Instead we are building a 200 million dollar warehouse for people and business that will almost never come. We have ignored climate change and instead chosen to give a handout of ratepayers money to the airport.
    Meanwhile our central library remains closed.

     

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