E-scooters to keep on scooting

23 May 2020

Public share e-scooters will continue to operate on Wellington streets but with some changes including more dedicated parking spaces around the city so e-scooters can be safely parked to help keep footpaths clear for pedestrians.

Landscape image of Flamingo e scooter on waterfront

Wellington City Council’s Strategy and Policy Committee this week voted unanimously to continue the trial e-scooter share scheme that has been operating since June 2019 and also agreed in principle to the scheme continuing from 2021 when new expressions of interest from e-scooter companies would be sought.

As part of the trial, the Council undertook two evaluation surveys to gauge how Wellingtonians felt about the public share e-scooter schemes. More than 7000 people took part in the surveys with the results showing most people support public-share micro-mobility and think it is positive for the city.

Deputy Mayor and Associate Transport Portfolio Lead Sarah Free says on balance the e-scooters have been a valued transport choice for Wellington however the Council will be making some changes for the remainder of the trial period which ends on 31 December.

“It’s clear the e-scooters are being used for commuting and many people see them as a convenient option for making short trips around the city. They can also help to take the pressure off our public transport capacity, and reduce private car use and the city’s greenhouse gas emissions.”

The evaluation surveys show e-scooter parking is a major concern and Cr Free says the Council can make practical changes to improve the street environment for everyone. “The parking space at the railway station has been successful in managing e-scooters in this busy area and we’ll be working with the e-scooter companies in the next six months to put in similar low-cost parking in other parts of the city, including Oriental Bay. This will help to reduce clutter on footpaths and keep them clear for pedestrians. It will also make parking safer and easier for people using the e-scooters.”

In the longer term, the Council is hoping to trial more permanent e-scooter parking subject to funding from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency’s Innovating Streets Fund. This could include secure parking and charging modules that can be easily installed.

Councillors also agreed on a 15km/h speed limit for e-scooters on the waterfront and Oriental Bay shared paths, which would be enforced by geo-fencing technology, and that more detailed work will happen over the next few months in response to the feedback received from the evaluation of the e-scooter trial, before the current licences expire on 31 December.

Council officers will review and update the Trading in Public Places policy under which the e-scooters can operate and modify the code of practice for the e-scooter companies.

Cr Free says changes to the policy will be based on experience to date so the Council can better manage public-share micro-mobility such as e-scooters, and to select and monitor the companies operating them in the future. “Where possible, we should also be looking to give preference to local or New Zealand-owned companies.”

Other likely policy changes will include fees for operators, e-scooter parking requirements and enforcement penalties, a cap on the numbers of e-scooters that operators can have on the streets and any safety or rule changes that come out of the Accessible Streets review being undertaken by the Government. A revised Trading in Public Places policy will have to be approved by Councillors before new expressions of interest from e-scooter operators can be sought in late 2020.

Councillors also supported the continued rollout of infrastructure to support micro-mobility including the city’s cycleway network, and for future e-scooter providers to have clear ‘end-of-life’ plans for dismantling and recycling their scooters. The public surveys were just one of the ways the Council has gathered information that has been considered as part of the evaluation of the e-scooter trial. It also looked at ACC data, and feedback from accessibility groups, Flamingo and Jump, and feedback received through our contact centre.