Auckland ride-sharing scooters automatic speed restrictions

Lime, Wave and Flamingo are 3 electric scooter companies participating in phase 2 of an Auckland trial finishing Oct 31 2019. A new code of practice requires scooter companies to restrict the speed of their scooters to 15km/h in designated slow speed zones.

Lime scooters have recently applied automatic speed limiting using geo-fencing. The scooter uses its GPS to determine if it enters a speed limited zone and immediately limits the scooters speed to 15km/h, down from the full speed limit of 25 km/h. However, during my first experience of the limit I observed it to be more like 10km.

I experienced the low speed zone this week riding behind Auckland Town Hall, an area with a lot of cobblestone paving. As you would expect, it was a bumpy ride. I assumed the cobblestone slowed the scooter and shook something loose. I pulled over to check and saw the notification on my phone and watch. Zones show on the Lime app on your map.

The notifications are delivered to your phone as you ride. I also received on my smart watch. But they are of little use while you are riding. You shouldn’t be looking at your devices while riding around people on the footpath.

I felt disappointed with the new automatic limit. Electric scooters are so convenient, zipping from the train station to the office in just a few minutes. The limit covered almost all of my journey to the office. The last few hundred metres in the Wynyard Quarter don’t usually have heavy foot traffic and even have cycle lanes. Why should the speed be limited there?

A board’s eye view – GoPro mounted to the deck of the scooter.

Even on a Saturday afternoon on Queen Street when the weekday workers are off the footpaths, the new 15km/h limit felt too fast. Responsible riders kept their speed lower 15km/h, before the automatic limit was imposed. The limit has been set to govern riders who need help to help themselves, to keep safe and pedestrians safe. After my weekend experience, I support the new limit. Though I do hope the low-speed zones are reviewed. Change the zones based on weekend foot traffic. Remove the limit while using cycle lanes. Ideally, the zones could be dynamically enforced.

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