E-scooters: what are the rules?
T’was the night before e-scooters, and all through the night, not a councillor was sleeping, try as they might. The rules were in place, the code of practice was clear but the question remained, would anyone care?
It’s been just over two weeks since 800 e-scooters appeared on Wellington’s streets as part of an 18-month trial. And it appears Wellingtonians are mostly embracing this utopian (for some, dystopian) mode of transport.
Uber Australia/New Zealand general manager Henry Greenacre said while it was early days, his team had been ‘‘amazed at the pace of uptake’’ of the e-scooters in Wellington compared with international cities in which Uberowned Jump operated.
‘‘During our first week of operations, we have regularly placed up to 70 scooters at the train station with most gone by 9am.’’
This was consistent with demand seen for e-scooters in San Francisco. Wellington had also, thus far, shown lower vandalism rates and better parking habits than some other cities, according to Greenacre.
Wellington Mayor Justin Lester said last week that the e-scooter share trial was part of the city offering more transport choices.
The process had been fraught and, ultimately, resulted in the introduction of a code of practice to keep the operators, Uber-owned Jump and local start-up Flamingo, in check.
But exactly what is kosher on an e-scooter is still a bit fuzzy, so Stuff has it covered with this go-to for everything e-scooter in the capital.
How do I do it?
Both providers require a smartphone and a credit/debit card. You also need to be over 18.
To use Jump, just open the Uber app and switch from ‘‘Ride’’ to ‘‘Scooter’’. Flamingo and Jump are both available in the Apple app store or on Google Play.
You can then follow the prompts to activate a scooter using your phone’s camera and the scooter’s QR code.
Once your scooter is unlocked, push off a few times, then gently press the accelerator. The motor is kinetic so won’t work without an initial push-off.
Brake by tapping the brake itself on the rear wheel, or pressing the brake button on the handlebars.
It’s not required to wear a helmet by law but NZTA, the council and both e-scooter providers recommend it.
Flamingo offers ‘‘free’’ helmets, although there is a $10 shipping fee. It was investigating a way to provide a ‘‘helmet hub’’ for people to borrow helmets.
Jump, which uses the same Segway Ninebot e-scooters as Flamingo, offers the following advice:
‘‘Always check that your tyres are in good condition, lights turn on, and brakes are working before you ride. Start slow and become familiar with the scooter. Brake early and gradually. Avoid riding down steep hills. Be aware of your surroundings. Ride within your limits, and don’t drink and ride.’’
Flamingo also reminded all users to not carry passengers and to refrain from using mobile phones while riding.
The rules = don’t be a menace
Where should I ride? It is currently illegal to ride an e-scooter in designated bike lanes that are ‘‘part of the road’’, according to NZTA.
Its website recommends that riders on footpaths must operate the e-scooter in a ‘‘careful and considerate manner’’ and at a speed that doesn’t put pedestrians at risk. Riders should also give way to pedestrians. If you prefer to stay out of people’s way by riding on the road, do so as far left as possible. When riding with Jump, riders will get a push notification when they head out of the service area, and another push notification if they try to end the trip out of the service area or in a no-parking zone.
The service area is visible in the app by selecting a random scooter – it will then show you the service area – it has a black outline on iPhones and a red outline on Android devices. Rentals must be ended within the service area or they will incur a $15 fee. Some users in Wellington had received warnings that the fee would be $25 but this was left over from overseas versions of the app and no-one had been charged $25.
No-go zones for footpath riding
The Golden Mile (Lambton Quay, starting from Parliament’s grounds, down Willis St and Manners St), Cuba Mall, the Botanic Gardens, including the Rose Garden and Anderson Park, Bolton St Cemetery, Otari-Wilton’s Bush, and Truby King Park. E-scooters will be disabled in the Courtenay precinct after 9pm from Friday to Sunday and evenings before public holidays.
Riders are encouraged to park scooters out of the way of footpaths and people. The apps require them to take a photo of their parked scooter in order to end their ride. Bad parking is policed by Jump and Flamingo through this method.
Each provider can, in the first instance, email the user a warning, followed by a possible account suspension, account termination and the black-listing of mobile phone numbers.
Flamingo users who park near designated public transport hubs will not be charged the $1 reservation fee for their trouble.
Other bits and pieces
E-scooters will be charged and redistributed around the city each night.
The trial will last 18 months, with an evaluation after six months (December 2019).
Consultation and engagement on a micro-mobility transport policy will take place during the following 12 months, and the council said in a statement that assessment of the trial’s success would be ongoing throughout the trial period.
Considerations will include safety, the number and duration of trips, where people go, and where scooters are parked.
Jump and Flamingo’s licence conditions included funding a campaign to encourage safe and courteous riding. The campaign’s messages have been developed in conjunction with the council.
Segway Ninebots can reach a maximum speed of 25kmh but Jump scooters are limited to 20kmh.
And for those avowed pedestrians, just trying to make sense of this e-scooter palaver, you have some power: if you see people breaking the rules, take note of the rego number on the e-scooter, and contact the council or the e-scooter providers to let them know what’s going on.
Bad-egg scooter users may lose their accounts if they continue to offend riding decency.