The growing use of e-scooters and other small electric vehicles is forcing the Government to reconsider how and where they should be used.
E-scooters are classified as low powered vehicles, and it’s thought thousands are being sold every year in New Zealand.
They’re permitted on footpaths, so as their speeds and numbers rise, pedestrians are increasingly concerned.
Some e-scooters on the market can travel at speeds of 45kmh.
Pedestrian advocate Dr Lynley Hood says “we’ve got to come to grips with these things and not have them all shoved onto the footpath”.
“Because of the speed and momentum, they can do a lot of damage to people who don’t see them coming,” she said.
ViaStrada’s John Lieswyn led recent research into low-powered vehicle use in New Zealand, and says he’s aware of those concerns.
“At the moment, as long as people are behaving responsibly, the police aren’t going to stop you from using it on a footpath or shared path,” he said.
“But as there are more and more of these things hitting the streets and the footpaths I think that regulatory agencies around the world are going to have to implement some rules.”
He hopes to see New Zealand introduce regulations around speed soon.
“Our research basically made that recommendation if it's a higher speed i.e. up to 25kmh for electric vehicle, like an electric scooter, it should be permitted for the cycle way,” Mr Lieswyn said.
TradeMe statistics show a 10 per cent growth in the sale of low powered vehicles such as e-scooters in the past year and the Government’s aware of that trend.
Associate Minister of Transport Julie Anne Genter says “The Ministry of Transport is reviewing footpath rules to consider what types of vehicles should be allowed to use the footpath and in what ways”.
"Footpaths need to remain safe and accessible places for walking, especially for the elderly and people with disabilities” she said.