Rodney Hide: Councils should work with scooter companies, not against them

Opinion 27/10/2018
Lime scooter. Photo: Supplied.

By Rodney Hide, former ACT Party leader.

OPINION: They popped up overnight in Auckland and Christchurch. Hundreds of Lime green electric scooters. 

If it had been left to me, I would still be wondering what they were for and who they belonged to. 

Fortunately, most people are smarter than me. Locals and tourists took to them with gusto. They figured out how to download the app, use their phones to find the nearest scooter, use their phone to rent and to pay for it and learn how to ride it.

It has been fantastic. It’s like the future has arrived with everyone with their own mobility machine that they can pick up and drop off anywhere that's convenient. 

They’re quick, convenient and fun. Clearly people like using them to get around. 

I watched businesspeople whip from meeting to meeting. Tourists are ‘scootering’ around the park, down by the river and taking in the city sights. School kids are coming home from school on them.

Lime e-scooters are everywhere with kids to nanas on them.

And the naysayers are out. Someone’s going to get hurt. They don’t have helmets on. Oh, I got a fright when one went passed me on the pavement. And some were left in the way outside the shops.

Of course, some people are going to do stupid and dangerous things with them. There will be people leaving them in the way of others. 

But most won't. Most will be respectful and exercise due care. 

So my earnest suggestion to councils and government is not to make a rule for the worst case or the lowest common denominator. That just puts a big cost on all of us. 

Authorities should deal with the ratbags and the thoughtless. Don't punish the many because of the antics of the few. 

The scooters might become the best thing to have happened for councils and government for years.

The biggest challenge buses and trains confront is the first and last kilometre. That’s the problem of getting from home to the bus stop. And then from the bus depot to work - that’s the biggest hurdle to public transport. For most people, the bus stop is not right outside their door and their work is not across from the bus depot.

It seems silly to take a car to the bus stop but then it’s too far to walk. We may as well take the car all the way to work.

Well, the battery-powered scooters might just solve the problem. Take a scooter for that first and last kilometre. It won’t suit everyone but then it doesn’t have to. If it just suits some then it’s worthwhile.

Councils and government need to see the opportunities, not just the problems. They should be working with the scooter companies, not against them.

They should see the fun and the convenience, not just an accident waiting to happen.

The Lime Company started just last year. It’s now valued at over a billion dollars. It’s already here in New Zealand with hundreds of scooters and thousands of rides a day.

The future now comes at us fast. We had better get used to change at speed. New technology and new ways of doing things are always a scary ride.

Rodney Hide speaks all things politics every Saturday on RadioLIVE’s Weekend Life.