November saw an increase in e-scooter injuries, with ACC reporting 219 new claims or 27 more than the previous month.
Along with 611 active claims, that saw the state-owned accident insurer rack up another $491,000 in e-scooter-related payouts, taking its tally since Lime launched in NZ in October 2018 to $5.3 million.
During the 14-month period, ACC has dealt with 3850 e-scooter claims (see table below).
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Some of those will apply to privately owned e-scooters (ACC doesn't provide a breakdown) - but most total costs back in October 2018 ($3489) indicate that rideshare services have accounted for the bulk of ACC's bill (which does not include A&E or treatment at public hospitals), which is bulk funded.
One study found Auckland Hospital's e-scooter-related acute surgery costs were $360,000 for Lime's launch on October 15, 2018 to February 22, 2019 as e-scooters caused more serious injuries than motorbikes).
Despite various publicity efforts around e-scooter safety, there have consistently been around 200 new injuries per month on ACC's books, with monthly costs hovering around the $500,000 mark.
December figures - still in the works - should show a drop. November 29 saw Auckland Council order Lime off Auckland streets after it failed to make the cut for the first official six-month e-scooter licensing period, which runs through to June 3. And it took until mid-January for newcomers Jump by Uber, Beam and Neuron to get their hardware on the city's streets.
But now that they've arrived, ACC's bill could spike.
That's because Auckland Council upped its cap on ride-share e-scooters from 1875 to 3200 as it introduced its first licence.
That's a problem because while more cycle lanes are being built, construction is still very much a work in progress. Meantime, pedestrians still have to play dodge 'em.
And while the council has been able to make speed-limits and curfews in some locations a condition of its new licences, it doesn't have the legal power to compel people to wear helmets or order e-scooters off footpaths or clean up the messy rules around e-scooters in shared lanes (e-scooters can currently be legally ridden in a "separated" cycle-lane, but not one that's created with painted lines, not that any agency is enforcing it).
It was July last year when Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter - who has the safety brief - first said the Government would consult on an update to our laws around micro-mobility transport. Supposedly, before the end of 2019.
Approached again by the Herald this month, Genter said a discussion paper would go to Cabinet "soon". It would be followed by public discussion.
In the meantime, we've only gone backwards, in regulatory terms. As Herald columnist Brian Rudman revealed, the NZ Transport Agency quietly gazetted to absolve itself of responsibility for e-scooters on footpaths on the eve of Lime's launch.
We'll get there. As commuters are keenly aware, a lot of new micro-mobility infrastructure is being but in place. And Cabinet will eventually stir into action and clean up the rules and we'll see safer, more enjoyable scooting.
But until then, taxpayers continue picking up ACC's tab of around $500,000 per month.
Postscript: Auckland Council six-month licence period to June 3, 2020
• Total e-scooter allocation: Raised from 1875 to 3200
• Beam: 880
• Neuron: 880
• Jump by Uber: 735
• Flamingo: 630
• Yet-to-be-allocated: 75
Jump is sharing Auckland streets with the locally-owned Flamingo (the only survivor from the trial period), and two Singapore-owned players Neuron (whose rollout of 880 e-scooters into Auckland on Friday) and Beam. All four were judged to have a better "safety profile" than Lime and Wave, who failed to make the cut.