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E-scooters between ‘rock of the footpath…hard place of the road’

An e-scooter survey found half of all users do not want to ride on footpaths.

Photo: RNZ / Colin Peacock

The survey was distributed via interest groups and social media and it received 591 responses from people who were more likely to be Pākehā, young adults with a high level of education and income.

It found that two-thirds of respondents had used an e-scooter and most of the trips (90 percent) were on the footpath.

However, half of e-scooter users thought the footpath was not the right place to ride an e-scooter.

Lincoln University researcher Dr Helen Fitt, who conducted the survey, said where e-scooters should ride was contentious and there was not the right infrastructure in place.

“A lot of e-scooter users feel stuck between the rock of the footpath and the hard place of the road and a lot of pedestrians feel that the footpath is not the most appropriate place for scooter use and they can feel a little bit threatened by that so we have some emerging tensions around there and I think it is important to deal with that.”

She said that riders were often not confident in traffic and felt unable to signal by taking their hands off the handlebars, which made e-scooters unsuitable for the road.

“Scooters are very popular for good reasons but our survey suggests they currently don’t fit well within existing infrastructure.

“We might need to consider infrastructural zones based on speed not vehicle type, with slow, medium, and fast zones instead of pedestrian, cycle, and vehicle zones.”