The memo on e-scooters is in and the news is: chill bro, we've got it covered.
At an Auckland Council meeting last week, Councillor Christine Fletcher reported nearly being hit by a green Lime e-scooter while on a pedestrian crossing. A very lively debate followed, which the mayor, Phil Goff, eventually brought to an end by asking his officials for an explanatory memo.
That memo has now been written and the Herald has obtained a copy.
"Briefing on E-Scooters" is eight pages long and contains lots of what might be called council language.
"Proactively using observational data at peak times could be a quick way to get a better understanding of the nature and the scale of the problem." Which means hey, we should get out there and see what's going on.
Apparently the problem is that because "media coverage has focused on rental e-scooter safety incidents", they don't really know how big the problem is. Or even if it is a problem.
They do know that in the first week of the Lime e-scooter trial in Auckland and Christchurch, 700 scooters were ridden 40,000 times. That's 57 trips per scooter. In that period, there were "14 mainly minor injury claims reported to ACC".
As for the rules, there are already so many rules!
It's illegal for scooter users to create "a hazard to other footpath users". The council already "prohibits use of device in a way that is reckless, intimidates, dangerous, injurious or a nuisance to other people". Hire companies must instruct riders to follow all traffic laws and not obstruct pedestrians.
Riders must "be competent, assess conditions are safe [and do] no stunt riding". They can't "be under influence of alcohol or prohibited drugs" and they're not even allowed to use their phones. They must give way to pedestrians and be "careful and considerate to others". It's almost sweet.
The memo recommends that council not rush to change any of this. It notes that Singapore is making helmets mandatory, along with a 10km speed limit on footpaths, but in Los Angeles helmets are now optional. Madrid has banned e‐scooters from footpaths altogether.
The scooters are on trial and the memo wants the trial to run its course, so they get more robust data for making better policy. Besides, it takes 12 months to change a bylaw and the Ministry of Transport will have some proposals of its own out next year.
"As with the emergence of other modes," says the memo, "experience shows there are initial peaks in safety incidents." It was true for "roller skates in the 1960s and the resurgence of skateboards in the 1980s".
And of "bicycles in the 1800s", the memo helpfully adds.
The message is that e-scooters could be a good addition to the city's short-hop transportation options and they do seem like fun. So what does the memo say council should do?
An education campaign, of course. It's going to start on Monday.
By the way, although they did a "high level SWOT analysis" they failed to pick up this piece of nonsense: scooters are allowed on the road, but they are banned in cycle lanes that are on the road.
The Ministry of Transport has to fix that one.