The Lime e-scooters fight: it’s all on… on the footpath

The other shoe’s dropped: Wellington city will get Lime Scooters. So let’s use the opportunity to move forward, shall we?

It’s happening a lot, where the private sector acts on a market niche and drags governments into action.  Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not ­ ­– but it seems that Wellington city’s councillors are staunchly ignoring the elephant in the room with these discussions

Our streets have been allowed to become the kingdom of the machines.  The footpath, that narrow little strip, is the only safe space for what walking guru Rodney Tolley calls “fresh humans”.

“Canned humans” do fine, protected by vehicle chasses, but also locked away from the life and experiences of the street (and, if they’re in their own cars, needing to park before they can become fresh humans again).

This is not a recipe for healthy streets, healthy towns, happy people or happy communities. People need more options to get around, as “fresh”.

Micromobility – essentially small wheely things which enable “fresh humans” to go faster than we can on foot – is fundamentally a good thing.  Full stop. and if it’s the gateway drug to leaving the car at home or not Ubering to the café for lunch, that’s great! 

But it mustn’t – it MUST NOT – come at the expense of the last refuge we’ve been left to enjoy streets as places, to walk or wheel if you’re impaired, or just to have a chilled out conversation.

So instead of pearl-clutching about e-scooters and other micromobility solutions as “dangerous”, let’s push back the thing that’s making this bizarre hunger games of the street. Let’s reclaim some aspects of streets from motor vehicle traffic, so people can use micromobility as enthusiastically as we’re starting to, AND do so safely for all fresh humans.

  1. Rori iti on larger roads
  2. Traffic calming on smaller roads so everyone, everyone is going at most 30km, making eye contact, and mixing
  3. Dedicated parking spots that support, not undermine, footpaths as destinations and places to hang out.

Sorted.  So tell us why again we aren’t doing this?

Image credit: The Spinoff

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