Don't make your e-scooter our safety hazard - blindness advocates

Blind advocates say speedy, silent and inconsiderately-parked e-scooters are turning Auckland footpaths into dangerous obstacle courses.

Paul Brown, a blind pedestrian from Auckland, said he recently experienced two "near misses" in the same week.

"The first time, a woman stopped and said there was a scooter in my way, and she'd move it out of the way for me.

“The second time, my cane found an object on the footpath which I realised on closer inspection was a scooter."

President of national advocacy organisation Blind Citizens NZ Dr Jonathan Godfrey says e-scooter users need to be mindful of who they're sharing the footpath with.

"We're hearing already that scooter users are not taking care to leave the scooters in sensible places. We'd ask that people think about other footpath-users, and help make our lives as easy as your lives."

He said the organisation is not calling for the e-scooters to be banned, but both regulation and consideration of others both have a role in protecting safe pedestrian travel.

"Many cities have bylaws for the placement of sandwich boards and other signage to make sure we can travel with comfort and dignity. Please if you're using a scooter, park it somewhere safe."

A New Zealand Transport Agency spokesperson said safety was paramount.

"The Transport Agency urges e-scooter users to ride safely at all times, and to take particular care when sharing the footpath with pedestrians, who may not hear or see them approaching.

"Good and safe behaviour remains the priority when people ride e-scooters and anyone riding dangerously on any part of the footpath, cycle lanes or road may be subject to Police enforcement."

Dr Godfrey said Blind Citizens NZ were also concerned about the speed of the vehicles on footpaths.

"These new scooters ... travel much faster than a jogger, and they are so quiet that we have no means to know they are coming. We must ask that everyone takes the time to think about these dangers.

"We think everyone should ask why scooters that can travel over 25km/h shouldn’t be out where cyclists belong," he added.

Californian ride-sharing company Lime has been operating under a three-month trial licence for the e-scooters in Auckland and christchurch, and plans to launch the service in Wellington and possibly Hamilton.

The safety risks of e-scooters extend well beyond blind pedestrians, while there numbers are set to increase, on Auckland streets this Friday thanks to bike-sharing company Onzo.

NZME reports ACC received 141 e-scooter-related claims in the first month of their use, mainly in Auckland and Christchurch.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has spoken out on the Council's position on  e-scooters, saying they should be subject to a speed limit of around 10km/h on footpaths and that police should use their enforcement powers when they encounter "reckless and dangerous behaviour."

Newshub contacted Lime for comment but it did not respond by deadline.