Lime scooters should not be "demonised" in Dunedin, despite an accident which left a woman seriously injured, Dunedin City Council chief executive Sue Bidrose says.
The 26-year-old woman — believed to be from the United States — was riding a Lime e-scooter in Dundas St when she collided with a truck at the Cumberland St intersection about 1.45am yesterday.
Radio New Zealand last night reported the woman had undergone surgery at Dunedin Hospital and was in a serious condition. A police spokesman was later unable to provide further details, Otago Daily Times reports.
An investigation is ongoing, but the Otago Daily Times has been told the woman rode through a red light at the intersection and into the path of the truck.
A police spokeswoman would not confirm that, saying the Serious Crash Unit had examined the scene but "we are not able to speculate on the cause of the crash while the investigation is ongoing".
Lime also refused to answer specific questions about why the scooter was on the street at that hour of the morning.
The company signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Dunedin City Council that included a requirement for scooters to be removed from public places each evening.
The ODT understands "juicers" — those who collect and charge the battery-powered vehicles — have been told to collect scooters needing charging from 9 o'clock every evening.
All other scooters were to be off the streets by midnight, and were not to be returned again until the following morning.
A Lime spokeswoman, contacted in Australia, would only say: "Our thoughts are with the rider involved in this tragic incident in Dunedin and we wish her a quick recovery.
"We have been in touch with the local authorities and will continue to assist in any way we can."
Dr Bidrose said the Dunedin council was already talking to Lime in the wake of the "tragic accident".
That included discussing "why this one [scooter] was being operated in the middle of the night", she said.
The agreement with Lime required scooters to be collected from public places each evening, but it was not yet clear where the scooter the woman was riding had come from.
"We don't know where this young lady rode from — whether it was at her place, or whether it was in a public place."
However, Dr Bidrose cautioned against overreacting in the wake of the incident.
"Traffic accidents happen with road users. Was that a Lime scooter issue, or was it just a road user issue? It's important not to demonise Lime scooters unfairly."
There were no plans to change the agreement with Lime, but she stressed the DCC had no regulatory powers to control the company anyway.
Lime could have launched in Dunedin without an agreement with the DCC, but the MoU sought to encourage "strong safety standards", she said.
"It's an agreement between the two of us — it's not a binding set of regulations."
The council could not force a lower speed limit or compulsory helmets on the company, but the DCC was talking to the police and New Zealand Transport Agency about such measures, she said.
The fact existing rules pre-dated e-scooters created "anomalies" which needed to be addressed.
The Government was already reported to be working on a new 10kmh speed limit for e-scooters, and Dr Bidrose said she would be "very surprised if we didn't — as a country — start having discussions about helmet use" as well.
Senior Sergeant Craig Dinnissen, of Dunedin, said the crash was still being investigated, including reviewing footage from an NZTA camera at the intersection.
The accident closed State Highway 1 (Cumberland St) to southbound traffic, between Howe St and St David St, until just after 7am.
The truck was owned by McKillop Contracting Ltd, but company owner Alex McKillop was not able to comment when contacted yesterday.
Otago University Students' Association president James Heath said in a statement he did not yet know if the injured woman was a student, but the association's sympathies were with her and her family.
The "onus" was on Lime to educate consumers on responsible use of the product, he believed.
The accident was the latest, and most serious, in a string of Lime scooter-related incidents since the company launched its Dunedin service last week.
Southern District Health Board nursing medicine director Jenny Hanson said staff were seeing five to seven presentations a day attributable to Lime scooters, mostly involving minor to moderate injuries to hands, feet and heads.
This story was originally from Otago Daily Times and republished here with permission