Lime’s electric scooters have been pulled from Auckland after concerns were raised about their safety.
Auckland Council says they decided to revoke Lime’s license after a braking defect was brought to their attention. The defect – which caused the scooters to stop unexpectedly – was believed to have affected 92 riders in Auckland, injuring 30. Auckland Council’s Chief Operating Officer Dean Kimpton said the decision had only been made after careful consideration. “While we appreciate the amenity that e-scooters offer as an innovative transport solution, safety is not negotiable,” he said.
Lime responded to the decision by releasing a firmware update designed to address the wheel-locking issue. The update, implemented on the 22nd of February, did cause a reduction in the number of unexpected locking incidents according to Kimpton. However, Kimpton said there will have to be a third party review to ensure the issue is truly solved. As part of this, Lime has paid for Exponent, an international specialist consultancy firm, to review the firmware fix. Throughout the review period, Lime has agreed to report to Auckland Council and Auckland Transport every 48-hours on the progress that has been made.
In the days following the ban Lime encouraged its users to petition the council, going so far as to send prompts to those who had the app downloaded. As a result of the campaign, Auckland Council reported receiving thousands of emails asking them to reinstate the scooters. Despite this, a review conducted on February 26th upheld the earlier verdict.
Mitchell Price, Lime’s Director for Government Affairs, released an apology on the 25th of February. “We are constantly assessing our product, evaluating the unique needs of our communities, listening to rider feedback and, in turn, iterating to improve,” he said, “we place the highest priority on rider and community safety and we are intentional in the efforts we undertake to ensure”. He concluded by noting that the braking incidents “were rare – less than a fraction of a percent of all Lime trips in New Zealand have been affected by this issue”.
At the time of writing, Auckland Council is still waiting for Lime to provide it with Exponent’s report. The council has indicated it will be reviewing its ban when the report is received. A spokesperson for Dunedin City Council (where a similar ban has been issued, and where they are also awaiting the report) said Exponent’s report would not only review the problem, but would provide a detailed analysis of how the e-scooters have impacted the community. The report is also expected to provide the respective council’s with recommendations on how best to police e-scooter use.