Lime squeeze

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As Queenstowners put the boot into Lime scooters on social media, the resort’s chamber of commerce boss warns an “ill-conceived” trial could set back a badly-needed transition to other modes of transport.

Anna Mickell says the chamber’s not opposed to e-scooters in principle, but she’s concerned the trial’s been badly planned.

While many residents seem “disappointed and confused” about the trial, particularly about how it’ll work in the CBD, she sees big potential benefits in places like Frankton.

“We’ve got to change attitudes and behaviours about how we move about, but if we do things that are half-arsed and not quite really there, it’s a shame because then we have to work much harder to get that licence back.”

For example, she wants to see the scooters stop operating much earlier than 10pm.

“It could be a really great thing if it’s the right type of scooter, if they can go up hills, if there’s an education campaign, if people aren’t drunk.

“We need to do it right – choose the right supplier for our environment, and work with them to make it a real success, not just suck it and see.”

The trial’s prompted outrage on social media, with most punters either dead-set against Lime scooters in the resort, or critical of City Hall’s agreement with the company. A Mountain Scene poll shows 81 per cent of respondents don’t want them here.

City Hall transport strategy boss Tony Pickard told councillors last week Lime or any other e-scooter provider could operate in the resort with, or without, an agreement.

So, it was preferable to agree a memorandum of understanding with the company that introduced controls “to protect the public’s health and safety, and to protect the public from nuisance”.

Lime NZ spin doctor Lauren Mentjox tells Scene it acknowledges residents’ concerns, and will be putting in “extra effort on safety education and mitigating nuisance” to address them before and during the trial.

“The safety of riders and pedestrians is paramount, and we remain dedicated to providing the safest e-scooter and a superior rider experience in every community we serve.”

It wants to work with City Hall and the community to come up with the best “micromobility” solution, Mentjox says.

“Lime also operates in other areas overseas with similar terrain and road conditions, and we’ll be bringing our learnings from these other operations to Queenstown.”

Queenstown Taxis boss Grant Scannell says he’s “horrified” City Hall’s approved the trial, predicting the scooters will worsen road congestion and put more stress on Lakes District Hospital staff.

He reckons “drunk and inexperienced” scooter riders will get bowled by cars on the resort’s busy roads.

He’s also worried for his own drivers, several of whom have been charged with careless driving in the past few years after drunks and others “acting like misfits” walked out in front of cabs.

Although none have been convicted, it’s caused them stress and anguish, he says.

guy.williams@scene.co.nz