ViaStrada was commissioned by legal representatives of three e-scooter sharing companies to prepare an affidavit for the court on the safety and regulation of e-scooters. This follows on from our NZ Transport Agency Research Report 621 Regulations and safety for electric bicycles and other low-powered vehicles.
The affidavit updated the earlier research and critically analysed the evidence provided by the applicant’s experts. The main issues are the lack of legal clarity around the definition of an e-scooter, whether hire e-scooters are obstructive or hazardous to pedestrians and measures the operators are taking in this regard, and the potential consequences of a ruling rendering e-scooters effectively illegal.
Key points included:
- The term ‘auxiliary’ used in NZ legislation appears to have originated in the 1949 Convention on Road Traffic, and is ambiguous
- Power is a poor regulatory criterion and New Zealand is a global outlier in relying exclusively upon it; a better solution is to remove any references to power and instead regulate maximum motor-assisted speed.
- E-scooters are stable and relatively easy to control.
- Operators are undertaking measures to address improper parking.
- Footpath riding is undesirable but exacerbated by current legislation.
- E-scooters are less dangerous than portrayed in the media; although injuries do occur, they are not out of proportion compared to other modes of travel
- E-scooters contribute to a low cost, accessible, lower emissions transport system.
The court case was decided in favour of the respondents, effectively enabling e-scooter operations to continue.