Council investigating e-scooter control

More pressure is being applied to the Government to come up with a national policy on e-scooters as the Dunedin City Council votes to give itself greater controls over the increasingly popular form of transport.

The council voted yesterday to start a review of its mobile trading and temporary stall bylaw to include bike or scooter ride-share companies.

The changes would allow the council to require companies such as Lime, which now has 700 scooters in the city, to obtain a licence and pay a fee to operate in the city.

An urgent report on what other options were available to the council to control the use of e-scooters will also be written.

The council will also write to the the Ministry of Transport and the NZ Transport Agency urging them to take a national approach to the use of helmets, cycleways and speed limits.

Both the ministry and the NZTA are reviewing the national regulations regarding e-scooters.

Council community services manager Simon Pickford said a review of the mobile trading bylaw only allowed the council to require operators to obtain a permit and was not able to address other issues such as rider behaviour.

At this stage there was not enough information to justify a review of a bylaw which would govern rider behaviour, Mr Pickford said.

Speaking before the vote a vocal Cr David-Benson said pedestrian safety needed to be put above all else.

''We have all been in George St or around the centre of the city recently, and have seen some downright - not just fun or silly - downright dangerous use of Lime scooters,'' Cr Benson-Pope said

While e-scooters had their place, it was not on footpaths in the city's main pedestrian areas, he said.

He asked an additional motion be added asking staff to urgently report on further mechanisms to restrict or control e-scooter use on footpaths.

Cr Kate Wilson asked for the review to include any relevant bylaw relating to e-scooters but was told by chief executive Sue Bidrose that would be too broad.

Several other councillors said they were frustrated at the lack of tools available to the council to control e-scooters in the city.

Cr Christine Garey said the regulations around e-scooters were complex which added to the public's frustration about the perceived inaction of the council.

''If we're having trouble understanding it how the heck is the community supposed to understand it, and my feeling is they don't.''

Cr Jim O'Malley said the bylaw was just the first step towards better control of the technology which would only become more popular.

Cr Wilson abstained from both votes while Cr O'Malley abstained from the vote on the additional motion.

In an emailed statement Lime public affairs manager Lauren Mentjox said the company would continue to work closely with the council and other authorities to ensure safety for everyone.

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