Are e-scooters operating illegally?
Dunedin Pedestrian Action Network
The New Zealand Transport Agency appears to have blundered in allowing e-scooters to operate, says pedestrian advocate Dr Lynley Hood.
“The New Zealand Transport Agency allowed e-scooters onto New Zealand roads and footpaths by defining them as non-motor vehicles. However, the NZTA did not follow the procedure defined by law. Therefore, e-scooters appear to be operating illegally.”
“By law, in order to define e-scooters as non-motor vehicles, the NZTA has to issue a gazette notice, and then present this notice to the House of Representatives. Unfortunately, the NZTA has not presented this notice within the required time."
"Therefore, it appears that the NZTA’s notice defining e-scooters as non-motor vehicles isn’t valid. Therefore, e-scooters are still legally defined as motor vehicles, just like cars and motorbikes. Therefore, e-scooters riders must legally have a class 1 driver’s license, wear a motor cycle helmet, and not ride of the footpath.”
Dr Hood, who is co-convenor of the Dunedin Pedestrian Action Network and trustee of Visual Impairment Charitable Trust Aotearoa, says the entire process of legalising e-scooters was “rushed through in a reckless and ignorant manner.”
“The government’s decision to let e-scooters use footpaths has already led to significant injuries and will inevitably end in fatalities”. says Dr Hood.
Dr Hood says the government fails to understand how vulnerable many pedestrians are.
“The very young and the very old are obviously highly vulnerable to being knocked over and seriously injured, but no pedestrian is safe.”
“E-scooters are fast and unstable. E-scooter riders frequently weave recklessly through pedestrians. Pedestrians with poor hearing and eyesight can easily step straight into the path of an oncoming scooter. Teenage pedestrians wearing headphones are just as vulnerable.”
“It’s hypocritical for the government to say it supports active transport, while at the same time putting pedestrians at risk. If the government really cared about active transport, it would prioritise pedestrian safety.”
“Nearly four times as many pedestrians as cyclists are killed on our roads each year, and the carnage on footpaths is escalating.”
“Over the past five years, 527 pedestrians were hospitalised with serious injuries caused by collisions with low powered vehicles such as bicycles. In most collisions between a bike and a pedestrian, the pedestrian comes out second-best.”
Dr Hood says pedestrians effectively have no voice in government decisionmaking.
“Government decisions about how footpaths are used tend to made for cyclists by cyclists. It is clear that many cyclists see walking as a slow, low status form of transport. This is a completely unacceptable viewpoint”.
“Walking is New Zealand’s most popular, most affordable, sustainable, inclusive, accessible and environmentally-friendly form of transport.”
“Footpaths are for feet. E-scooters belong on roads and cycleways, but only after they are legalised.”
 In January, in response to an Official Information Act request, the NZTA had the following to say:
“… an electric scooter would be considered to be a motor vehicle and would need to be registered. However, as it would not be able to meet any of the standards it would not be able to be registered as a moped. In addition, as it is considered a motor vehicle it cannot be driven on a footpath in accordance with Section 2.13 of the Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004 which can be found via: www.legislation.govt.nz/regulation/public/2004/0427/latest/DLM303057.html
The entire OIA request response can be found at: