Fans of e-scooter company Lime have inundated Auckland Council with emails of support after it placed a temporary ban on its fleet - but it's still unclear if they will be allowed back on the streets.

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It comes as the San Francisco-based company apologised to its riders and said it was working hard to earn the trust of New Zealanders following a spate of incidents which left many of it scooter users injured.

The e-scooter company, was banned from the streets of Auckland and Dunedin on Friday because of the safety issues.


Its licences were temporarily revoked by Auckland and then Dunedin councils amid growing safety concerns following a number of incidents in which the front wheels on the e-scooters unexpectedly locked.

It is unclear when a decision on Lime's future in Auckland will be made.

On Friday, the council said Lime was expected to report back to it by Monday, but Dean Kimpton, the council's chief operating officer, said in a statement to the Herald this afternoon, he was expecting to hear from Lime "early this week".

"[Council] will then need to consider this information before making any further decisions," he said.

"We expect to make those decisions within 24 hours of receiving their update."

However, he said the council had received almost 5000 emails from Aucklanders about Lime's licence since the ban was imposed on Friday - the vast majority in support of the scooters.

"The feedback is very supportive of the e-scooters, but we have also had a lot of support for our decision to suspend the licence while we seek reassurances that this particular type of scooter is safe," Kimpton said.

"We will provide a further update as soon as we're able."


Call to regulate e-scooters

Meanwhile, the editor of a car review website has joined the row over e-scooter safety, calling on the Government to regulate the new technology.

"It's frightening how easily Lime was able to get around existing Government regulations," Clive Matthew Wilson of said.

The road safety campaigner added: "I'm not against e-scooters, I'm against the way the promoters of these scooters were allowed to effectively dump their products onto the market without any real planning or supervision. The riders of these scooters and the taxpayer both ended up paying the price."

He called on councils and the Government to ban e-scooters until a "credible plan for their use" was devised - at the expense of the scooter companies.

"A delay in introducing e-scooters isn't going to kill anyone," he said. "However, leaving these scooters operating in their current manner is already killing and maiming people."

Apology to riders, but Lime insists scooters are safe

On Friday, Auckland Council said it had been advised by Lime that it had identified 155 reported irregular braking incidents which may have been caused by the unexpected locking issue - 92 of which were in Auckland, and of those 30 resulted in injury.

The company had teams "working around the clock to rigorously assess our fleet while working to pinpoint the cause of this issue and rectify it swiftly", Mitchell Price, Lime's director of government affairs and strategy said in an op-ed for the Herald.

"We hired a world-renowned, engineering and scientific consulting firm to act as an independent expert to determine the cause of the problem," he wrote.

Those experts identified a "firmware issue impacting the electrical subsystems in some scooters".

A series of updates had been developed and he was "confident in their efficacy".

"We have already rolled out some of the firmware fixes, which immediately resulted in a reduction of occurrences."

These had already been installed across all Lime scooters in New Zealand, Price said.

An Aucklander riding a Lime e-scooter around the city. Photo / Greg Bowker
An Aucklander riding a Lime e-scooter around the city. Photo / Greg Bowker

Admitting the company had got it wrong, Price said: "A prevailing truth about innovation also applies to us: things don't always go as planned, we have mis-steps, and we have to find out why mistakes happen so we can fix them, learn and adjust to them, ultimately to provide a better service."

He added: "While we remain confident in the safety of our service, we understand that Lime scooters will never become as ubiquitous as innovations like the automobile if the community doesn't share that confidence.

"We apologise to our riders and the Auckland community for this issue and the disruption in service and remain vigilant to earn the community's trust."

He vowed to continue to work closely with the "forward-thinking Auckland Council", and reiterated the company's "highest priority" was rider and community safety.

Lime was committed to providing "reliable affordable clean transportation options that are - above all - safe", he said.

More than 185,000 riders have taken nearly one million trips on Lime scooters in Auckland alone since its launch in October. The San Francisco-based company estimated it has prevented more than 300,000 vehicle trips.

But it was the growing number of injuries that spurred Auckland Council to ban them from city streets. On Friday, the council took the steps to revoke Lime's operating licence, saying "safety is not negotiable".

Liam Thompson broke his jaw when the front wheel of the Lime scooter he was riding locked, sending him flying over the handlebar and into concrete.

Mohsen Ansari was speeding down Parnell Rise on a Lime scooter on Tuesday morning when the front wheel locked up and sent him sprawling forwards, rupturing the meniscus in his knee.

Lime's world-wide problems

It's not the first time Lime has seen its licence to operate put on hold for safety reasons. Last month the company's 550-strong fleet was pulled from the Swiss cities of Zurich and Basel after multiple reports of injuries when the scooters abruptly braked while in use.

It was also banned from the US cities of Reno and Indianapolis last year while those cities sought to clarify regulation around the new mode of transport, while San Francisco issued a temporary ban in May last year after residents complained of congested streets and illegal parking.

In December, the Spanish city of Madrid banned three e-scooter companies, including Lime, from operating and ordered them to remove their scooters from the streets saying they weren't doing enough to inform people about their usage rules.

The company has also battled a number of safety issues, including two recalls at the end of 2018 - one involving defective batteries which smouldered and/or caught fire, and another involving baseboards which could crack or break while ridden at high speed.

A number of injuries worldwide, and the deaths of three young men in the US have also been linked to incidents involving Lime scooters.