Safety top concern as Lime turns one

Photo: James Hall
Photo: James Hall
A year after Lime e-scooters hit New Zealand streets the company acknowledges safety remains a big concern - but there are no plans to roll out compulsory helmets.

More than 2000 riders have been injured on the popular scooters, which were launched in Auckland a year ago on Tuesday before later being rolled out in other cities.

Earlier this year Auckland Council temporarily pulled them off the streets due to a braking fault. But, despite the risk and plenty of injuries, their popularity continues to climb with more than 2 million rides recorded in the city to date.

Speaking ahead of Tuesday's anniversary Mitchell Price, Lime's head of government relations Asia Pacific, told the Herald safety was a big issue.

"Safety is remaining our first priority, and throughout the past 12 months we've worked with all stakeholders, NZTA, Minister of Transport, all the councils across New Zealand to create a safe riding environment ... and we continue and remain committed to do so."

Lime-S 3rd generation scooter. Photo: Supplied
Lime-S 3rd generation scooter. Photo: Supplied
Price said a new "bigger and safer" Lime generation 3.0 scooter, currently being tested in the United States, will be put onto New Zealand streets some time next year.

The new scooters come with a replaceable battery in the baseboard and LED face with Google map integration for navigation.

"It's bigger, it's safer and it's stronger," Price said.

"It's the world leading device and it's something we're committed to bringing to New Zealand."

While Lime hasn't gone as far as providing helmets Price said the company be making a greater push on getting riders to wear them.

"Lime recommends riders wear helmets and provides them for free to those participating in its 'First Ride' rider safety training events (available for new or first-time riders).

"Overseas we have partnered with helmet companies to offer discounted products to riders and are working on expanding these programmes to more cities around the world including NZ."

A global Lime survey has found it has had a massive uptake in New Zealand, with 61.3 per cent of Auckland riders using the motorised scooter to commute to and from work compared to 37 per cent globally.

Across the country, more than four million Lime rides have been recorded travelling 5.8 million km.

Price said this meant the motorised scooters had helped reduce more than 6250 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the air and 757,082 litres of petrol consumed.

"Thirty per cent of Auckland riders preferred using Lime rather than a motor vehicle, taxi or their own car and 34 per cent used it to get to and from public transport," he said.

"So we know we are connecting people to other modes. The diverse range of riders continue to grow, we're seeing professionals, mums, dads...elderly, young."

A recent "win" that Price said he was really proud of was the plan to launch the electric scooters in Selwyn.

"It will be the first regional, rural expansion of Lime in Asia-Pacific, and this would show that these scooters are not just for the cities, they are for everybody," he said.

Earlier this year, Auckland Council temporarily pulled Lime scooters from Auckland streets saying there had been 155 irregular braking incidents reported across the country, 92 in Auckland, that had resulted in 19 separate injury claims.

Price, however, insisted the scooters are safe and when the numbers were seen in perspective, the risks were very small.

A study looking at e-scooter injuries requiring surgery at Auckland City Hospital found 21 patients needing 23 operations at a total cost of $404,925 between October 15 last year and February 22.

Injuries ranged from head fractures to broken leg, ankle and knees.

The paper The Cost of Electric-Scooter Related Orthopaedic Surgery found the popularity of e-scooters was creating a burden on taxpayers and healthcare systems.

Claims for ACC e-scooter injuries also topped $4.3 million with more than 2000 claims between October 2018 and July 2019. Auckland saw the most claims with 1271, totalling $1,767,480.

Main causes of injuries, according to ACC claims, were loss of balance and injuries to the knee, hand, wrist and arm.

Last month, 23-year-old man Toben Hunt died after falling off a Lime scooter, and the death was believed to be the first from an electric scooter in New Zealand.

However, Auckland Council said there was no evidence mechanical failure caused the tragic incident.

Comments

"Safety is remaining our first priority", but there are no plans to roll out compulsory helmets. So much bull from this awful outfit.

It is remarkable that an offshore company can please itself over H & S Laws.

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