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Coming to Queenstown: City Hall's approved a six-month trial of Lime scooters in the Wakatipu, beginning in April

Brace yourselves, Queenstown, 400 Lime scooters are inbound.

At its meeting in Queenstown this afternoon, City Hall approved a six-month trial – but it won’t start this summer.

Councillors voted 8-3 to allow staff to enter into a memorandum of understanding with Lime setting out proposed controls on the scooters’ operation, including their maximum speed and operating hours.

Councillor Penny Clark moved the motion of approval on the condition the trial would begin in April, when the resort’s town centre was quieter.

“I don’t want to see one of our visitors seriously injured.”

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

But, it seems like there are question marks over whether or not Lime will be a goer here.

On one hand it might help get residents out of their cars for their morning commutes, but, when you compare Queenstown to other places Lime’s operating, our town centre’s “very compact”, council’s planning and transport boss Tony Pickard says.

“The e-scooters are limited generally to hard and flat surfaces, so many of the tracks and trails in Queenstown may not be able to be utilised.

“The range of weather conditions may also be relevant to the success of e-scooter operations in Queenstown, as will the volume and ratio of tourists to residents.”

He thinks Lime will operate mostly in and around the town centre, but the intention’s to test them across the entire basin – Lime will dictate the extent of the area.

“A large part of the value of the trial is to understand if this mode allows the replacement of private car trips.

“Fernhill and Frankton, for example, are connected to the town through roads and paths (notably not the Frankton Track, as the surface is unsuitable) and feedback would provide useful data on how this mode deals with range and gradients.”

Included in the “controls” proposed by council are safety checks and limits on operational hours.

Pickard suggests the scooters should be turned off between 10pm and 5am daily and that no more than five should be deployed in any one location each morning.

Any that aren’t removed from the streets by 11pm nightly would be seized by City Hall, and subject to a $100 release fee.

Last week, Auckland Council booted Lime from its streets – apparently that’s in part due to a lack of safety standards.

But, there’s potentially a judicial review in the works to see how the scooters were allowed to operate there in the first place.

tracey.roxburgh@scene.co.nz