Don't 'demonise' Lime scooters over crash - Bidrose

Police talk to a truck driver following an accident involving a truck and a Lime scooter in...
Police talk to a truck driver following an accident involving a truck and a Lime scooter in Dunedin yesterday. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Lime scooters should not be "demonised" in Dunedin, despite an accident which left a woman seriously injured, Dunedin City Council chief executive Sue Bidrose says.

The 26-year-old woman — believed to be from the United States — was riding a Lime e-scooter in Dundas St when she collided with a truck at the Cumberland St intersection about 1.45am yesterday.

Radio New Zealand last night reported the woman had undergone surgery at Dunedin Hospital and was in a serious condition. 

A Southern District Health Board spokeswoman told the Otago Daily Times she remained in a serious condition this morning.

An investigation is ongoing, but the ODT has been told the woman rode through a red light at the intersection and into the path of the truck.

A police spokeswoman would not confirm that, saying the Serious Crash Unit had examined the scene but "we are not able to speculate on the cause of the crash while the investigation is ongoing".

Lime also refused to answer specific questions about why the scooter was on the street at that hour of the morning.

The company signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Dunedin City Council that included a requirement for scooters to be removed from public places each evening.

The ODT understands "juicers" — those who collect and charge the battery-powered vehicles — have been told to collect scooters needing charging from 9 o’clock every evening.

All other scooters were to be off the streets by midnight, and were not to be returned again until the following morning.

A Lime spokeswoman, contacted in Australia, would only say: "Our thoughts are with the rider involved in this tragic incident in Dunedin and we wish her a quick recovery.

"We have been in touch with the local authorities and will continue to assist in any way we can."

Dr Bidrose said the Dunedin council was already talking to Lime in the wake of the "tragic accident".

That included discussing "why this one [scooter] was being operated in the middle of the night", she said.

The agreement with Lime required scooters to be collected from public places each evening, but it was not yet clear where the scooter the woman was riding had come from.

"We don’t know where this young lady rode from — whether it was at her place, or whether it was in a public place."

However, Dr Bidrose cautioned against overreacting in the wake of the incident.

"Traffic accidents happen with road users. Was that a Lime scooter issue, or was it just a road user issue? It’s important not to demonise Lime scooters unfairly."

There were no plans to change the agreement with Lime, but she stressed the DCC had no regulatory powers to control the company anyway.

Lime could have launched in Dunedin without an agreement with the DCC, but the MoU sought to encourage "strong safety standards", she said.

"It’s an agreement between the two of us — it’s not a binding set of regulations."

The council could not force a lower speed limit or compulsory helmets on the company, but the DCC was talking to the police and New Zealand Transport Agency about such measures, she said.

The fact existing rules pre-dated e-scooters created "anomalies" which needed to be addressed.

The Government was already reported to be working on a new 10kmh speed limit for e-scooters, and Dr Bidrose said she would be "very surprised if we didn’t — as a country — start having discussions about helmet use" as well.

Senior Sergeant Craig Dinnissen, of Dunedin, said the crash was still being investigated, including reviewing footage from an NZTA camera at the intersection.

The accident closed State Highway 1 (Cumberland St) to southbound traffic, between Howe St and St David St, until just after 7am.

The truck was owned by McKillop Contracting Ltd, but company owner Alex McKillop was not able to comment when contacted yesterday.

Otago University Students’ Association president James Heath said in a statement he did not yet know if the injured woman was a student, but the association’s sympathies were with her and her family.

The "onus" was on Lime to educate consumers on responsible use of the product, he believed.

The accident was the latest, and most serious, in a string of Lime scooter-related incidents since the company launched its Dunedin service last week.

Southern District Health Board nursing medicine director Jenny Hanson said staff were seeing five to seven presentations a day attributable to Lime scooters, mostly involving minor to moderate injuries to hands, feet and heads.

Comments

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The lack of laws covering electric scooters is one major problem here. Many users don’t understand the danger of such a potentially quick little vehicle. The very freedom of their use with little or no regulation or law encourages recklessness.

It takes moments to get going on one of these things and riders are not considering the dangers. Campare this to cycling where they occupy a similar space. On a bike you need skill just to get it going etc. There are very clear regulations governing them in the road code. So users think more cautiously using them.

Laws and regulation encourage people to know their responsibilities and act within boundaries for their safety and that of others. The e-scooter comes with a focus of free wheeling fun which encourages irresponsibility.

I hope this young lady comes through this ok but I think if there were clear boundaries around using e-scooters irresponsibly as there are other vehicles on the roads users would think more cautiously about their use.

Well said Q, one thing I think you forgot too mention is the users don't now the limes so they don't care about using it tomorrow vs a person who owns an electric scooter they would have taken the time to learn to rip them and progressed their skills and use them so they can use them another day and not trash them.

I will caution against under-reacting to accidents from LIme Scooters. The council and hospitals and ACC need to be monitoring these accidents and have a level where it is decided they are more harmful than of benefit. It may be that these scooters will not cause many accidents that otherwise would not have occurred but we need to be mindful that they might cause more than acceptable.

Thoughts are with the lady and hoping for a quick recovery - Is this a backpedal from Bidrose, an attempt to distance the DCC from Lime? An attempt to clam the farm before the poor lady parents get involved, imo the Removal of Limes off the street every nite is an unrealistic request, with todays technology they should be able to be remotely locked out. I'd love to know what skin the DCC has in the game as in what they receive for allowing the limes on the street. Enforcing helmets, a 10 km speed limit is an after thought, and it really squashes what they provide to a city, all this should have been done before letting the limes loose on the streets. Will we see a law suite from the Ladies parents and Lime / DCC. Really unsure why Bidrose has commented at all. Cull would have been the better story teller.

"Clam the farm" - quote of the week lol.

Keep them coming.

Traveling through a red light is not the scooter's fault.

Indeed, it is not the equipment but the user.

So true. The operator looks to be at fault and could just as easily have been a bicycle or a skateboard or some other mode of transport. Because it's an e-scooter it gets front page attention from ODT. This is the demonising that Bidrose is warning about.

Totally agree we shouldn't be demonising Lime scooters or their users ...

What Council, NZTA and other interested parties need to do, is make sure the "Scooterists" are licensed and have 3rd party insurance for damage to other road users or property.

ACC need introduce levies to cover the cost of injury or death to licenced "Scooterists"

An alternative solution that the Council should consider, are seperate "Scooter" lanes ... quite simple really, just make the two lane SH1, both north and south, single lane.

Cycle lanes to the left, scooter lanes to the right, cars, trucks and buses in the centre lane. The lanes would, of course, have to be separated by concrete barriers or cheese-grater wire barriers ....

Recent indications show that "Scooterists" prefer using watercourses, train tracks and steep streets ... authorities could consider restricting the use of scooters to the Leith stream or gutters (but only during heavy rain), train tracks (but only when in use by trains) and highly trained staff at the top of steep streets to give the "Scooterists" a bloody good kick up the ar$e, to aid them in achieving maximum speed.

Can't wait for "O" week !!!

Just remember it's not the equipment, it's the user but there will always be numptys that blame anything but themselves.

Those scooter companies indeed need to be demonized, scrutinized, and possibly sued for negligence. In a span of 1.5 weeks I feel off twice. The first time I feel off, the brakes were nonoperational, and I didn't realize it until I was approaching an intersection going 15 mph. I tried using my shoes as brakes, but I ultimately jumped off to prevent getting t-boned at the intersection. I ended up being thrown off onto a parked car, which actually cushioned my fall. I just ended up with minor scrapes to my arm and mild pain. When I contacted the company, they were barely concerned and just credited my 1 buck and some change for the "inconvenience". The second time I fell, the scooter just started to wobble, and I lost my balance and fell onto the road. I ended up with some pretty bad scrapes on my right arm and some pain. After the second fall, I decided the scooters were too much of a risk to ride. I have ridden maybe 20,000 miles on a bicycle and can't remember anytime falling. I do have decent balance and athleticism, and I can't imagine less fit people safely riding the scooters.

If a shop wants to place a sign on the footpath they need to pay council a sizable fee. All sorts of rules apply and mistakes cost shops a hefty fine / fee.
Lime and their like are allowed to dump devices all over the place with no regard for pedestrian safety. Ms Bidrose says the scooters are all collected and locked away each night. That is obviously not true.
So how much are DCC fining Lime for each and every breach of council laws? Are council even monitoring reality versus policy?
Or is this just another example of a weak council being too close to multinational companies?
Ms Bidrose is being too quick to make excuses for Lime and not doing her job.

Those scooter companies indeed need to be demonized, scrutinized, and possibly sued for negligence. In a span of 1.5 weeks I feel off twice. The first time I feel off, the brakes were nonoperational, and I didn't realize it until I was approaching an intersection going 15 mph. I tried using my shoes as brakes, but I ultimately jumped off to prevent getting t-boned at the intersection. I ended up being thrown off onto a parked car, which actually cushioned my fall. I just ended up with minor scrapes to my arm and mild pain. When I contacted the company, they were barely concerned and just credited my 1 buck and some change for the "inconvenience". The second time I fell, the scooter just started to wobble, and I lost my balance and fell onto the road. I ended up with some pretty bad scrapes on my right arm and some pain. After the second fall, I decided the scooters were too much of a risk to ride. I have ridden maybe 20,000 miles on a bicycle and can't remember anytime falling. I do have decent balance and athleticism, and I can't imagine less fit people safely riding the scooters.

Not sure why Bidrose entered the conversation but she was probably asked by a journalist and the response has been twisted for an attractive heading. Looking objectively - she is right. However...... This MOUnderstanding was too hasty and done without consulting us. We could have pointed out the repercussions in anticipation. There is also international experience that could have been sourced. France for instance is banning them from footpaths. See: https://www.reuters.com/.../france-to-ban-electric?fbclid=IwAR2C9DNVhA40.... Let's hope NZ does the same.

I don't demonise scooters. I demonise those who let them loose without proper control creating unprecedented double standards of safety. Dr Bidrose according to your title you have a PhD degree i.e. you must have some good understanding of statistics so you knew very well that serious crash is only a matter of time - and rather short time yet you did let this go. What was your personal interest in doing so?
P.S. very same dcc people padlocked old Caversham tunnel for cyclists because it's "not safe and someone can hurt themselves". Similar story with ridiculous clearance and fence height for a cycling trail near railway corridor because "items can fall off a train and hurt somebody". Are you kidding us?

I am very interested to see that all these comments raise issues relating to the possible dangers of Lime scooters... I am most concerned with their use on footpaths and in public places. And in Dunedin's hills, people must be aware of the speed these bikes can reach. I have seen Lime scooters being ridden down Stuart Street at the same speed as cars: I wonder how effective the brakes would be in such situations...And, yes, they are left all over footpaths and I really question if other businesses can make equal use of such areas which I and others pay for through our rates...

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