E-scooters - should they go or should they stay?

NZTA (Waka Kotahi) has been consulting on its E-scooter (Declaration not to be Motor Vehicles) Notice 2018 and asked for your views. This was the Gazette notice Declaration that resulted in e-scooters being allowed to be used on footpaths. The consultation closed on 7 August.

Background and LSA's position

A little under five years ago, e-scooters appeared in large numbers in Auckland and Christchurch. Since then, they have spread to many towns and cities across the country.

This came about as a result of NZTA declaring that e-scooters are not motor vehicles, despite being vehicles propelled almost completely by electric motors. The declaration was made at the request of e-scooter hire companies so that their e-scooters would not need to be registered or meet the safety standards of motor vehicles and so that riders would not need to have a licence.

It also had the consequence of making it legal for e-scooters to be ridden and parked on footpaths, although riders were supposed to comply with Road User Rule 2004 by always riding considerately and giving way to pedestrians as well as not parking in ways that obstruct pedestrians.

NZTA is now consulting on whether or not to renew the declaration. If they do renew it, then e-scooters will continue to be allowed to be ridden and parked on footpaths. If they don't, for-hire e-scooters will almost certainly disappear from our streets.

Living Streets Aotearoa's position is that footpaths should be preserved for the use of pedestrians, especially as this includes people with disabilities, people who are frail and small children. It is also because footpaths are not just transport corridors but provide important social spaces in our communities where people meet and children play. Using fast moving vehicles of any type on footpaths severely compromises the safety and comfort of pedestrians and degrades the non-transport functions of footpaths.

We recognise that e-scooters could contribute to decreasing the carbon emissions and congestion associated with our urban transport system and for that reason we support their use in cycle lanes/paths and on the roadway where the speed limit is 30 km/h or less. We want all road users to be safe.

There is now technology available and in use overseas that enables e-scooters to detect whether they are being ridden on the footpath, in cycle lanes/paths or on the roadway. This means that their speed can be controlled by the companies that hire them out. We advocate that the use of such technology should be a requirement of e-scooters to be used in NZ.

NZTA could solve the problems caused by e-scooter use on footpaths

E-scooters are causing injury, danger, inconvenience and/or discomfort to many pedestrians, despite the conditions which are imposed by Councils when e-scooter hire companies seek a licence to operate in a city and despite the efforts of the companies to educate their riders to abide by the rules the companies set. The licence conditions relate only to the companies and not directly to the user of e-scooters and so Councils can't take enforcement action directly against users.

NZTA needs to fix the problem one way or another and it has several means by which it could do so. For example,

  1. getting the Government to amend s168A (4) of the Land Transport Act 1998 so that NZTA can impose conditions on any e-scooter that it declares not to be a motor vehicle not just those with power outputs greater than 300W as is currently the case. This would mean NZTA could impose a condition that e-scooters not be used on footpaths or any other condition; or

  2. using the s168D exemption provision instead of the s168A declaration provision to exempt e-scooters from the need to be registered, and licensed and to meet motor vehicle safety requirements while still classifying them as motor vehicles so prohibiting them from using footpaths; or

  3. classifying e-scooters as power-assisted cycles, which aren't allowed to be ridden on footpaths; or

  4. classifying them as e-scooters, declaring them not to be motor vehicles and add appropriate requirements and restrictions to Road User Rule 2004 to specify where e-scooters can be ridden and parked and at what speed and in what manner.


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About Us

Living Streets Aotearoa is the New Zealand organisation for people on foot, promoting walking-friendly communities. We are a nationwide organisation with local branches and affiliates throughout New Zealand.

We want more people walking and enjoying public spaces be they young or old, fast or slow, whether walking, sitting, commuting, shopping, between appointments, or out on the streets for exercise, for leisure or for pleasure.

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