Stop sending me 'damn' emails about Lime - Mayor Phil Goff

Phil Goff wants Lime users to stop sending him "damn" emails, because emails will not bring back the scooters.

That depends on the company proving to Auckland Council they've fixed the sudden braking issue, the Mayor told The AM Show on Monday.

"I was a bit disappointed over the weekend to hear the Lime boss from somewhere up in Asia saying, 'Look, it's unfortunate, this decision by Auckland Council, and there were only 155 incidents.' I'm sorry, but when the front wheel of your scooter locks up unexpectedly and you are travelling at speed, the consequences are that your life is at risk."

Mr Goff, a keen motorcyclist in his spare time, said it was lucky no one had died on the scooters, which have a top speed of about 27km/h on flat ground.

Auckland Council suspended Lime's licence to operate on Friday, after scores of reports the scooters' brakes were locking up without warning, mid-ride. There have been 30 reported injuries. Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said the company voluntarily stopped operations in the southern city while they work out the kinks.

"Once they've convinced Auckland and shown them the evidence they can fix the problem, they'll be wanting to bring them back onto the streets of Dunedin as well."

Lime scooter
Lime scooters have been a hit worldwide. Photo credit: Getty

Mr Goff said Lime has hired an outside team of experts to diagnose the problem. He's not sure what checks were done before the company unleashed its fleet on the city last year.

"They have to demonstrate the analysis they've done, the remedy they've put in place and that the remedy is working," he said.

"When you hop on a Lime scooter you've got to have confidence that suddenly, your front wheel's not going to lock shut, and you're not going to be catapulted over the top of the scooter onto the road in front of a car. They're a great way of getting around, but they're not a toy - they're a vehicle, and they've got to meet the same standards as any other vehicle on the road."

Firmware updates rolled out

Lime says it's been "working around the clock" for weeks to remedy the issue.

"Experts helped us rule out the possibility of a hardware issue, and identify a likely firmware issue impacting the electrical subsystems in some scooters," spokesperson Mitchell Price wrote in an opinion piece for NZME on Monday.

"We have developed a series of updates for the firmware and are confident in their efficacy."

Mr Price said there was a "material reduction" in incidents after the updates were rolled out even before Auckland Council suspended the trial.

He said the company apologises to "the Auckland community for this issue and the disruption in service" and would work to regain commuters' trust. 

'Damn' emails

Over the weekend, Lime prompted users via its app to contact the Mayor and Councillors. More than 4000 did, but Mr Goff said it's been a waste of everyone's time.

"I got 4000 or some damn thing emails over the weekend. None of that is going to influence the decision - this decision is not about politics, it's about safety."

Phil Goff.
Phil Goff. Photo credit: The AM Show

Once the scooters are back, Mr Goff says they'll be looking at changes to where they can operate. At present it's legal to ride them on footpaths and roads, but not cycleways - a situation Mr Goff called "crazy".

He wants a speed limit for when they're on footpaths, and police to crack down on "idiots" putting pedestrians at risk.

"Most people I see riding around town are doing so absolutely responsibly - but I see some idiots, Boy, I see some idiots. What I'm saying to the police force is, you guys need to police this for reckless driving as you would for any other vehicle."

Mr Kimpton said the 5000 emails they've received as of Monday morning are "very supportive of the e-scooters, but we have also had a lot of support for our decision to suspend the licence while we seek reassurances that this particular type of scooter is safe".

Lime has failed to respond to Newshub's requests for comment since Thursday.