Auckland Mayoral election: John Tamihere, Phil Goff fight over e-scooters in fiery The AM Show debate

John Tamihere says e-scooters should never have been allowed into Auckland and proposed tighter regulations on them in a fiery debate with incumbent Mayor Phil Goff.

There are only four days to go in the Auckland mayoralty voting period, with preliminary results due out as soon as votes have been counted.

In a tense debate on The AM Show on Tuesday morning, regulations around e-scooters were a lightning rod of discussion for both candidates.

While current Auckland Mayor Goff said he was happy with them in Auckland as long as there were "controls", his opponent Tamihere was more critical.

"They should have never been allowed into the city," he said.

"When the scooters came into town, every other jurisdiction calls them a vehicle because they are 30km/h, every other jurisdiction puts some rules around where you can ride them and whether you should wear crash helmets".

Since Limes - one of the largest e-scooter brands - were introduced in Auckland in 2018, rules have been introduced limiting the speed of the scooters in specific locations. Goff ordered a safety review earlier this year, leading Lime's license to be briefly suspended in February.

Auckland Mayoral election: John Tamihere, Phil Goff fight over e-scooters in fiery The AM Show debate
Photo credit: The AM Show.

On Tuesday, Goff said he had been waiting a long time to hear Tamihere's stance on the scooters and asked if he would ban them from the city.

"Is your policy to do away with them? Let's get it out because you have not said anything through the whole campaign," Goff asked on The AM Show.

But Tamihere said he isn't looking to prohibit them, but instead introduce stricter regulations. 

"I would regulate them. You would have to wear helmets," he said, to which Goff said he didn't have the power to enforce that. 

"You don't have that power. New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) has that power," Goff said.

 "Phil, you surrender everything to Wellington," Tamihere replied. 

"My job is to ensure that if you wanted to make money out of the green scooters, you have to provide a range of things to make them safe. Helmets must. Cyclists have to."

The mayoral hopeful also said he would fine people using the scooters on the open road.

Lime scooters.
Lime scooters. Photo credit: Getty.

Lime, as well as e-scooter operators Wave and Flamingo, are all on a trial in Auckland until October 31, with the council monitoring their safety and compliance with regulations. After the trial has finished, Auckland Transport will consider if the regulations are satisfactory and if any changes are needed.

Currently, helmets are not legally required when using an e-scooter, however, the NZTA does recommend it. Lime says on its website that riders should follow helmet laws and has in the past distributed thousands of helmets as part of a safety campaign.

The NZTA also says e-scooters can be driven both on the footpath and on the road - but if on a road, they must be operated as close to the edge as possible.

In September, one person died after a fatal accident involving a Lime e-scooter. While Lime said it was saddened by the incident, it found no mechanical fault with the scooter involved.

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