Auckland Council is putting the brakes on electric scooters by imposing a 15km/h speed limit in parts of the city (listed below).
In a statement today Auckland Council announced it will be adding a new e-scooter operator to its second trial, with 175 additional scooters to be released.
Newcomer Flamingo will join Lime, which has been operating in Auckland since October 2018, and Wave which launched its first e-scooters in March.
Flamingo is a home-grown startup, which was recently added to Wellington's e-scooter trial, along with Uber-owned Jump.
The Council's second trial of the e-scooter rideshare schemes will run until October 31, 2019.
The following areas will be "geo-fenced," the council says - a reference to a technology that can automatically slow a scooter when GPS senses it is in a certain area. Riders will notice scooters slow to 15km/h when entering or starting their journey in one of the following slow-speed zones.
• Ponsonby Rd
• Jervois Road (College Hill to Curran St)
• Karangahape Rd
• CBD including Queen St and waterfront area
• Auckland City Hospital precinct
• Parnell (including the Blind Foundation precinct)
• Mission Bay
• St Heliers
Meanwhile, newly released ACC stats show nearly 2000 e-scooter injury claims have been made since October, costing taxpayers nearly $1.5m nationwide.
Since their introduction on October 15, there have been a total of 1964 e-scooter related claims made to ACC.
Figures released by the Government agency show these claims have cost the taxpayer $1,458,133, with the lion's share - 932 claims, costing $812,882 - in Auckland.
However, licensing and regulatory compliance general manager Craig Hobbs, who is leading the trial, said he was impressed with the way the programme has progressed since e-scooters were first suggested for Auckland's streets.
"This time last year, we had barely heard of e-scooter ride-share schemes, let alone anticipated having fleets of e-scooters on our streets and footpaths.
"That work continues in this second phase trial where we will see how three operators share the market over six months," he said.
Auckland Transport Chief Executive Shane Ellison said AT and the council had prioritised the second trial for two important reasons - one being safety.
"Micro-mobility modes of transport are becoming increasingly popular and are not something we can ignore. Ride-share scooters encourage people to connect with public transport and offer an alternative to cars for short trips.
"We are also seeing more and more privately-owned e-scooters across the city – which confirms that Aucklanders are embracing scooters as a transport mode and that we need to factor this in to the transport equation in our region," he said.
"Secondly, and equally as important, is safety. While we have little influence right now on the rules for where e-scooters can be ridden, how fast they can go and wearing of helmets, we have done as much as we can to promote public safety.
"We will continue to work with operators to incentivise safe rider behaviour; we will monitor compliance with the licence conditions, especially around maintenance, responsible parking and incident management; and we will contribute what we learn, to safety improvements at a national level.
"We are also continuing our advocacy to central Government for a national regulatory framework for e-scooters."
The new code of practice will also encourage operators to introduce slow-speed zones via geofencing.
This automatically reduces the scooters' speed in nominated areas, improving the safety of users and pedestrians.
The following areas will be geo-fenced; Takapuna, Devonport, Ponsonby Rd, Jervois Rd, Karangahape Rd, the CBD including Queen St and the waterfront area, Auckland City Hospital precinct, Parnell, Newmarket, Mission Bay, Kohimarama, and St Heliers.
In these slow-speed zones, scooters will slow to 15km/h when entering or starting their journey.
The updated code of practice also includes more stringent requirements on safety and risk management, incident reporting and investigation, and requirements to report on safety performance on a monthly basis.
There is also a requirement for detailed plans for regular maintenance and weekly maintenance checks; encouraged slow speed zones, via geo-fencing; and changes made to the removal of non-compliantly parked scooters, which must be removed by the operator within three hours of being reported.
The second phase trial continues until October 31, after which the council and AT will evaluate the trial and look at options for the future.
"As well as evaluating operations over the six month period, we will be conducting some research, meeting with interest groups, engaging with our counterparts at other councils and looking at what we can contribute to work on micro-mobility at a central Government level," Hobbs said.
"If the outcome of this trial recommends e-scooter ride-share operations should continue to be licenced, we may also need to look at whether changes to our bylaw are required."
The first Flamingo e-scooters will be deployed in the week beginning June 9, 2019.
Safety is of 'paramount importance':
Lime NZ Public Affairs Manager Lauren Mentjox said safety is of paramount importance to the company.
"But unfortunately, like all forms of transportation, there is a risk that we work to mitigate but cannot entirely eliminate," she said.
"Data shows scooters are a safe form of transportation, comparable to or safer than bicycles. But there are risks even if they are very small.
"We, therefore, recommend that riders always put the safety of themselves and others before anything else when using any of our vehicles."
Mentjox said Lime's public liability insurance exceeds council requirements.
"This coverage is there for riders and the public if something goes wrong. While on a scooter, riders are responsible for obeying the road rules including wearing a helmet, following the speed limit and only having one person riding at a time.
"Our scooter speed is capped at 25km/h to ensure the safety of all riders and we have developed a series of educational videos, dedicated instructional pages and in-app messages to ensure riders know and abide by applicable rules and regulations.
"We have also recently introduced geofencing which allows our scooters to operate at a slower speed within specified low-speed zones."
Lime's director of government affairs and strategy Apac, Mitchell Price, said it is thrilled to continue serving the City of Auckland.
"We remain committed to working closely with both Auckland Council and Auckland Transport to provide a safe, clean and accessible transport option for residents and visitors.
"As Lime's first market in the Apac region to reach one million rides, we have Auckland's rider and juicer community to thank for demonstrating the real value that micro-mobility can have and helping advance this new mode of transportation across New Zealand.
"We look forward to getting even more people out of cars and helping ease congestion in this great city."