UK Bans E-scooters From Pavements, Bans Private Scooters, Requires Driver’s Licence For Scooter Riders. Leave a comment


New Zealand should follow the lead of the UK and
introduce sensible regulations for e-scooters, says the car
review website dogandlemon.com.

Editor
Clive Matthew-Wilson, who is an outspoken road safety
campaigner, says:

The
English government has announced
that e-scooters must be
hired from licensed operators. These e-scooters will be
limited to a top speed of 25kp/h and will only be permitted
on roads and cycle lanes, with riders banned from
pavements.”

“People hiring e-scooters in the UK
must be aged at least 16 and hold a provisional or full
driving licence.”

“The English government also
recently confirmed its ban on privately owned e-scooters,
because it’s effectively impossible to ensure that these
scooters comply with safety regulations, such as brakes and
speed restrictions.”

Matthew-Wilson describes the
English approach to e-scooters as sensible, fair and
reasonable.

“Everyone gains and nobody loses, except
perhaps for some greedy scooter companies.”

“The New
Zealand government should promptly adopt these English
regulations.”

Matthew-Wilson adds that e-scooters
were effectively sneaked onto New Zealand footpaths without
proper safety assessments[i].

“The steady
stream of accidents
followed as night follows day, yet
e-scooter promoters have
not paid a cent towards treating the injuries
caused by
their scooters.”

“The English government has
demonstrated that it’s possible to use e-scooters in a
manner that maximizes both convenience and safety. We should
urgently copy this approach.”

• Clive
Matthew-Wilson has been actively campaigning on road safety
and consumer issues for 25 years. Mentored by engineer Chris
Coxon (former technical chair and founding member of the
Australian New Car Assessment Program – ANCAP), Matthew-Wilson
was the first person to publish crash test results in New
Zealand. His research into seatbelt upgrades was awarded by
the Australian Police Journal. Matthew-Wilson is a strong
supporter of pedestrians’ and cyclists’ rights and has
helped shape many major road safety policies in New
Zealand.

Clive Matthew-Wilson was the founder of constitution.org.nz

[i]

‘A
war on pedestrians’

• This document was first
produced by road safety campaigner Clive Matthew-Wilson in
2019, but is a reasonably accurate reflection of the current
situation.

Auckland Transport, along with many
government departments, has repeatedly refused to deny that
it wishes to allow bicycles, e-bicycles, as well as existing
e-scooters, to use public footpaths. This proposal, which
would require a change of law (the government’s proposed
‘Accessible Streets’ package), is of extreme concern to
pedestrian groups.

Dr Lynley Hood from the Visual
Impairment Charitable Trust Aotearoa (Victa) describes this
policy change as “a war on pedestrians.” The advocacy
group Living Streets Aotearoa is similarly
concerned.

Both groups, along with many advocacy
groups for the old, the young, the disabled and vulnerable,
are also deeply concerned at the way in which a major
foreign corporation was apparently able to circumvent due
process of law by hiring the former head of a major
political party.

According to Radio NZ, NZTA announced
in 2013 that:

“The District Court has held that
low-powered electric scooters are not power-assisted cycles
but are motor vehicles”.

In January of 2018, NZTA
repeated this view:

“… only a small number of
low-powered vehicles that have been declared as not being
motor vehicles and these are mobility devices,
power-assisted cycles and Yike Bikes. As an electric scooter
is not defined as a cycle (even if its maximum power does
not exceed 300 watts), it has not been declared as being a
non-motor vehicle. This means that an electric scooter would
be considered to be a motor vehicle and would need to be
registered. However, as it would not be able to meet any of
the standards it would not be able to be registered as a
moped. In addition, as it is considered a motor vehicle it
cannot be driven on a footpath in accordance with Section
2.13 of the Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004 which can
be found via: http://www.legislation.govt.nz/regulation/public/2004/0427/latest/DLM303057.html
.

Any vehicle meeting the definition of motor vehicle
requires registration, inspection and a driver licence
applicable for the vehicle type. Most two-wheel electric
scooters and two-wheel low-powered vehicles are mopeds and
the relevant laws apply (e.g. riders must have a class 1
driver licence and wear a motor cycle helmet, mopeds must be
registered and licensed, mopeds must not be ridden in a
cycle lane). For your reference, vehicle classifications can
be found via:

http://www.nzta.govt.nz/vehicles/vehicle-types/vehicle-classes-and-standards/vehicleclasses/

Please
note: It would be a significant change in current
classification for further small powered vehicles not to be
treated as motor vehicles. Any change would require
considerable investigation and consultation into the
appropriateness of making a change as there are significant
possible risks in these vehicles using and sharing both the
footpath and the roadway. The legislation also requires the
Transport Agency to investigate and make separate
determinations for each low-powered vehicle type and
model.”

It is also clear from the original
definition of a ‘vehicle’ that parliament was not
intending to exempt e-scooters and e-bikes.

For
example, at the time of legislation, the Hon. Maurice
Williamson’ asked parliament to ensure that his small
children would be allowed to ride their “little moped,
Go-Ped motorised scooters” around the park without having
to register their vehicles or obtain driving
licenses.

Ergo, it seems clear that the powers of
exemption were intended for devices such as childrens’
toys.

The NZTA’s original belief that e-scooters
were indeed motor vehicles has also been confirmed by a
number of recent judicial decisions, such as the one
below:

In Cromwell on October 20 of 2018, Daniel
William Hurley (24) was charged with drink driving after a
brief joyride on a motorised chilly bin.

Motorised chilly
bin

The judge, Michael Turner, confirmed that the
motorised chilly bin was indeed a motor vehicle. Hurley’s
offending had been ‘‘at the lower end of the
spectrum’’, and a Lime scooter was ‘‘probably more
dangerous’’, said the judge.

Judge Turner fined
Hurley $700, with court costs of $130.

Motorised Lime
scooter

Bending the rules

It is also clear
that, for some reason, not only did NZTA change its position
on Lime scooters being motor vehicles, but also NZTA
appeared to bend the law to accommodate Lime.

For
example, emails obtained under the Official Information Act
show that NZTA effectively took that word of Lime that its
scooters complied.

13/9/18 10.01am. NZTA to
Lime:

“Can you get your controllers tuned or any
other manner to get your vehicles to maximum of 300W? Oh
also, can you send us a manufacturer’s spec sheet which
has the model code/name etc.”

• 15/9/18 5.20pm.
Lime to NZTA:

“…we were able to control the
maximum output by setting the ‘acceleration mode’ to the
lowest level, which will keep actual power output under 300W
at all times. I’ve just got ahold of the manufacturer’s
spec sheet, and unfortunately the only version of it is in
Chinese… you should be able to use Google
translate…”

• 15/9/18 7.31pm.
NZTA to Lime:

“…can you tell me
how you can assure us that an operator cannot simply turn
this mode off and revert it to type…”


17/9/18 11.39am.
Lime to
NZTA:

“I can’t think of any ways that
this could be enforced. I suppose it would just be more of
an honour system…”

• 28/9/10
2.12pm.
NZTA to Lime:

“The
wheeled recreational device e-scooter paradigm is
essentially a self-certification regime and as such, the
Agency does not have a part to play in this… Have to say,
our engineers are scratching their heads trying to determine
how you managed to detune your units to meet the
requirements and still achieve a 27KPH
result.”

• 1/11/18 9.42am.
NZTA to Lime:

“…the New Zealand
Transport Agency has received formal accusations that your
devices do not meet the maximum 300W
requirement…”

• 8/11/18 1.59pm.
Lime to NZTA:

“…I’m working on
tracking down the official spec for the scooter version we
have here…. the spec sheet you have is for the Ninebot
scooter, which we didn’t end up launching
here…”

A clear and present danger

As Radio
NZ recently reported:

“A recent survey of 200 people
by the Blind Foundation found that going out for a walk was
becoming increasingly dangerous due to
e-scooters.

Auckland man Paul Brown said he spent most
of his morning walk in the city down Queen Street dodging
discarded scooters.

“I’ve had people move them out
of the way for me… I’ve certainly knocked one over,”
he said.

Speed fiends whizzing past were also a
problem, Mr Brown said.

He said his wife was once
forced to pull him out of the path of an e-scooter rider who
hadn’t seen him while out with their three-year-old
daughter.

Mr Brown said he wasn’t sure what would
have happened if his wife wasn’t there.

Rebekah
Gartner, from Hawke’s Bay, said she lived in terror that
her guide dog Gregan would be hit by one.

She said
e-scooters had given him a fright on more than one occasion,
and she feared for his safety.

Auckland woman Danielle
said her bad eyesight meant she couldn’t tell when an
e-scooter was behind or beside her.

“People on
e-scooters around where I live go really fast and it just
kind of makes your heart drop when somebody like zooms past
you, and because I don’t see people very well I almost get
like knocked away … because people on the scooters … I
think they’re just thinking about
themselves.”’

It has been suggested, as part of
the arrangement whereby e-scooters, e-bikes and conventional
bicycles share footpaths with pedestrians, that speed limits
and a code of practice would be introduced.

This
suggestion is difficult to take seriously. While it may be
possible to insist that rental e-scooters and e-bikes are
neatly stacked after use, and that these devices have
effective speed limits, such controls appear to be
impossible for privately owned two-wheeled
vehicles.

Conventional bicycles have no registration
system, number plates or other means of identification. They
also have no way of measuring speed. Similarly, privately
owned e-scooters and e-bikes are expected to become more and
more common as prices fall. Given that the government
currently declines to require these vehicles to be
registered or subject to independent inspection, or their
riders licensed, it is difficult to see how speed limits and
controls on behaviour could be effectively
enforced.

It has been suggested that police take over
the job of enforcement of speed limits on footpaths. This is
another proposal that appears to lack credibility. Given
that the number of e-scooters and e-bikes is in the
thousands and is growing (not to mention conventional
bikes), it is difficult to believe that the police would
have either the resources or the inclination to enforce
regulations, except perhaps in a few urban
areas.

Further, it is difficult to imagine the police
being comfortable pulling trained officers off either road
patrols or crime patrols in order to control the speed and
behavior of two-wheeled vehicles on pavements.

It is
possible that private officers could be employed, but it is
difficult to imagine this being feasible outside of a few
key urban areas.

In addition, what enforcement would
be feasible and safe? What, for example, would happen if a
privately owned scooter rider or cyclist ignored the command
of an enforcement officer? Would a chase ensue? How could
the officer identify either the vehicle or the
offender?

As with Lime Scooter’s ‘suggestion’
that users wear helmets, it appears that the idea of
enforcing limits of behaviour on two-wheeled vehicles on
footpaths is essentially a public relations
gesture.

However,

“Singapore does appear to
have a robust enforcement regime. The use of e-scooters on
public paths in Singapore is governed by legislation which
fully came into effect in May last year. Essentially riders
must register their approved e-scooter, wear helmets and
adhere to safe usage otherwise they could be fined, jailed
or have their e-scooters seized.”

However, there is
little in the government’s ‘Accessible Streets’
package that comes close to Singapore’s level of control
or enforcement.

Suggestions of a public education
campaign to educate pavement riders also lack credibility.
The most obvious example is Lime Scooters’ suggestion that
riders wear helmets. Almost no Lime scooter riders wear
helmets.

There is, in fact, little evidence that
safety promotional campaigns work at all.

In 2001, the
American Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, one of the
largest and most respected road safety establishments in the
world, collated the results of dozens of other studies over
the previous 30 years.

Their
conclusion:

“Research indicates that education has
no effect, or only a very limited effect, on habits like
staying within speed limits, heeding stop signs, and using
safety belts.”

“[Until you check out the facts,]
who can argue against the benefits of education or
training?” asks Institute chief scientist Allan Williams.
“But when good scientific evaluations are undertaken, most
of the driver improvement programmes based on education or
persuasion alone are found not to work.”

Dubious
arguments

The arguments in favour of e-bikes,
e-scooters and bicycles on pavements are not particularly
convincing.

As Lime NZ stated in late
2018:

“The advantage of our e-scooters is they work
together with existing public transit by allowing increasing
the accessibility of public transport so people can rely
less on personal cars.”

This mantra has been
repeated again and again, by vendors and also at the highest
levels of government.

It is rarely questioned, because
it appears that AT, the Auckland Council and central
government all blindly accept the arguments put forward by
groups such as Greater Auckland, that e-scooters are a
workable transport solution.

In fact, one major
American study reported that the single biggest reason for
e-scooter rides was ‘joyriding’ (34.3%). ‘Running
errands’ was second at 23.4%, with ‘commuting’ a
distant third at 19.4%.

It is worth noting that almost
all the advocates for e-scooters tend to be young and tend
to be somewhat blind to the value of more conventional
last-mile transport options such as shared vehicles. Or
walking.

It is perhaps easy to see how a young and fit
Millennial would see e-scootering as a viable everyday
transport option, it is much harder to view such devices as
a solution for the vast majority of commuters, including
parents with children, people who lack the ability to easily
change clothes at work (if they commute in the rain), old
people and also vulnerable groups such as people coming home
at night.

In addition, the often-repeated benefit of
conventional bikes is that they encourage fitness and that
therefore conventional bikes are a positive thing.

So,
arguably, the chief benefit of e-scooters is a reduction in
the exercise that the rider would receive if she or he
simply walked instead.

Few commentaries on the value
of either conventional bikes or e-scooters mention the
health and environment benefits of simply walking.

It
is equally disturbing to hear e-scooters described as having
a positive environmental impact. Again, the often-repeated
assumption is that each e-scooter trip replaces a car
trip.

However, given that most trips are recreational,
this appears to be a fairly weak argument.

In New
Zealand, Lime has made a number of fairly grandiose claims
about its products, minimising the harm and perhaps
exaggerating the benefits.

After stating that nearly
one million trips have been made on Auckland streets in less
than four months, in addition, Lime claims that 209,343
people used an e-scooter in Auckland, “replacing a trip
in a car or other service”.

However, Lime did
not offer an explanation as to how this data was gathered,
nor what “other service” meant. “Other service”
might have simply meant that a Lime rider rode instead of
walked.

It appears that many of the stated benefits of
‘last-mile’ technology originate with the corporations
that build them and are then widely repeated without much
serious scrutiny. This should be a matter of urgent
concern.

Speed reduction

In May of 2019, the
Auckland Council and AT announced that several e-scooter
companies had agreed to limit the speeds on their e-scooters
to 15kp/h.

However, these speed restrictions apply
only to a few, high density zones, not the city as a whole.
And, these speed limits are voluntary for the companies that
rent the scooters. There is no actual legal
obligation.

Auckland Transport chief executive Shane
Ellison stated that the council and AT cannot impose speed
limits through the licence process, so operator-initiated
geofencing “is important for public safety”.

But,
as Auckland Council licencing and regulatory compliance
manager Craig Hobbs admitted:

“[The average] walking
pace is around about 4km/h to 5km/h, so [these e-scooters
will still be] doing about three times walking
pace.”

Moreover, both Hobbs and Ellison failed to
explain how this speed limit would be enforced on the large
numbers of privately owned e-scooters also in use in these
same
areas.

© Scoop Media

 



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