Lime trial concerns advocacy groups

A six-month trial of 400 Lime scooters in Queenstown's town centre is likely to start in April, despite implacable opposition from community representatives.

The proposed trial was lambasted by seven speakers at the public forum of yesterday’s meeting of the Queenstown Lakes District Council.

However, councillors voted 8-3 to allow staff to enter into a memorandum of understanding with Lime, which is already written in draft form, setting out controls on the scooters' operation, such as their maximum speed, operating hours and parking restrictions.

Cr Penny Clark agreed to move the motion on the condition the trial would begin no sooner than April, when the resort's town centre was quieter.

‘‘I don't want to see one of our visitors seriously injured.’’

Queenstown Grey Power representative Kirsty Sharpe said its members were "fired up" by the proposal.

The town centre was too small and its pavements too narrow for scooters to be safely ridden, putting visitors and the elderly in ‘‘mortal danger’’ of injury.

Well-known resort musician, Mark Wilson, who is blind, said mobility was a source of empowerment for people like him.

The scooters would "clog" footpaths, and Lime had no control over the behaviour of riders.

"They're a danger to themselves, they're a danger to the community, and they're a danger to me."

Greg Miller, of the Kelvin Peninsula Community Association, said he was a "big fan" of Lime scooters in larger centres like Christchurch or Auckland, but believed they were unsuitable for Queenstown.

Although the draft memorandum addressed many of the association's concerns, the trial was at odds with the council's recent focus on making the town centre more pedestrian-friendly.

Duncan Edwards, of Age Concern Queenstown, said hospital admission and ACC claim statistics in the past 12 months provided clear evidence of the harm the scooters had caused in the community.

Lime public affairs manager Lauren Mentjox told councillors the company wanted to work with the council and residents to overcome any concerns.

The motion was opposed by Crs Craig Ferguson, Val Miller and Niki Gladding.

In February, Auckland and Dunedin’s councils temporarily suspended the Lime scooters from the streets because of safety concerns.

They were reinstated the following month after assurances the fault had been fixed.

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