COMMENT:

Walkers of the world unite and rid our footpaths of the dreaded e-scooters for ever. Lime, the recently suspended e-scooter operator in Auckland and Dunedin, was busy over the weekend, encouraging its clients to lobby Auckland councillors to reverse the decision.

It's time for walkers to fight back and remind councillors why footpaths are so named. They're for foot traffic, created, presumably, around the time the wheel was invented, to stop pedestrians from being run over.

And with local body elections coming up, what better time to remind Mayor Phil Goff and his councillors that's it's we oldie pedestrians who actually still vote, not the e-scooter generation, many of whom appear too young to even be on the electoral roll.

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What a crazy exercise in bad governance this has all been. Last winter, bureaucrats in Auckland and Wellington, terrified of being seen as untrendy, were hustled by a group of scooter-hiring wide boys from California.

Hard as it might be to believe, they agreed to rewrite the traffic regulations so that an e-scooter was no longer to be regarded as a motor vehicle and could forthwith be allowed to roam our city pavements. It was a revolutionary change, done in secret with none of the usual consultation with traffic experts or the public.

With the law changed, assorted councils around the country let the Californians loose on our footpaths, hiring out their cheap Chinese-made "non-vehicles." They duly raked in the cash while the rest of us were told to join the 21st century, embrace change and stop moaning.

Since their introduction in mid-October, ACC has received at least 1300 claims for e-scooter related injuries, and paid out more than $643,337 in compensation. This includes 218 fractures/dislocations.

Despite the rapidly growing casualty list, our oh so trendy politicians and bureaucrats have been unable to concede they've cocked-up. As the scooters were being unleashed on Auckland streets last October , Mayor Goff did worry they were "predominantly unregulated," and said "I don't want to have to react in the event if there is a serious injury." So he didn't!

Even in recent weeks, as the electronics in the scooter braking system started to go haywire, randomly locking front wheels and sending riders flying over the handle bars, to break jaws and knees, the delay in responding by both Lime and the councils has been a disgrace.

By the end of last week when Auckland Council finally had them removed from city streets, Lime admitted to having received reports of 155 irregular braking incidents, nationwide, 30 of them resulting in injury.

As the Automobile Association's Mike Noon says, "customers deserve better." He added, "Imagine if you were riding a bicycle that fell apart while you were riding it, or a you were hiring a rental car that the brakes failed on?"

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Personally, I've got to the selfish stage where I'm thinking if customers are stupid enough to jump aboard dodgy scooters without a helmet, and ride off into the sunset, then more fools them.

My priority is my survival as a pedestrian. Now it emerges that the 27kph top speed is not the maximum after all. Robert King told the Herald he was speeding down Grafton Gully on February 18 with the speedo stuck on 29.5 kph and accelerating when his brakes locked.

He flew off the scooter at, he estimates, 40kph. Miraculously he survived. He reported it to Lime but heard nothing back until a week later after they were banned, and they started grovelling for support from him and other users.

Back in October when the scooters first came on the scene, I said I didn't want to share my pavement with any thing that could hit me from behind at 27kph. That they are capable of speeds approaching double that, makes that right even harder to fathom.

Lime co-founder and chief executive Toby Sun seems to agree with me. In Auckland last month he said "We need to get Limes off the pavement." He proposed an increase in dedicated cycle/scooter lane infrastructure.

Personally, as long as they don't return to the footpaths, I'm not fussed where they go. But sharing space with bikes does sound like a more even contest.