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Basic E-Scooter Rules & Regulations in New Zealand

by Techies Guardian

Why bother to make an article on electric scooter rules and regulations when it is seemingly undergoing a change, expanding it, and hopefully for the better?

In this regard, this article also shares some additional insights that aims to help ease the confusion of some e-scooter riders, kiwi friends who are also e-scooter enthusiasts.

Cutting to the chase, the NZTA website accordingly, defines what it considers as low-powered vehicles:

‘Low-powered vehicles that do not require registration or a driver license. The following do not meet the definition of a motor vehicle or have been declared not to be a motor vehicle and you can use them without registration or a driver’s license.

On electric scooters or e-scooters.

“An electric scooter is designed in the style of a traditional push scooter, with a footboard, two or three wheels, a long steering handle and an electric auxiliary propulsion motor. In order to meet the requirements for a low-powered vehicle, the wheels must not exceed 355mm and the motor must have a maximum power output not exceeding 300W.”

  1. Please note that the maximum possible wattage of the electric motor as stated, is not necessarily the same as the maximum power output of the e-scooter.

Note that: The maximum power output is determined by multiplying the battery voltage by the controller’s maximum amperage output.

(For example: a 600W motor and a 12V battery with a controller that has a maximum output of 21 amps creates a maximum power output of 252W – so 252W is the relevant figure, even though the motor has a potential output of 600W — NZTA website).

  1. Electric scooters can only be used on the footpath or the road, except in designated cycle lanes that are part of the road and those which were designed, and allocated for sole and exclusive use of cyclists.
  1. Remember the following:

On the footpath, the user must –

  1. operate the device in a careful and considerate manner
  2. operate the device at a speed that does not put other footpath users at risk
  3. give way to both pedestrians and drivers of mobility devices
  1. A helmet is recommended, and should be worn by the rider.
  1. On the road, e-scooters must be operated as near as practicable to the edge of the roadway. But then this Gazette (notice) was published (very quietly) on 18th September 2018.

Read carefully the E–Scooters (Declaration not to be motor vehicles) Notice 2018.

Pursuant to section 168A(2) of the Land Transport Act 1998, and pursuant to an authority delegated to me by the Chief Executive of the New Zealand Transport Agency, I, Brandon Mainwaring, Senior Manager, Operational Policy, Planning and Performance, declare an electric scooter not to be a motor vehicle if all of the following apply:

  1. The electric scooter is comprised primarily of a footboard, two or three wheels, and a long steering handle;
  1. The electric scooter’s wheels do not exceed 355mm in diameter;

III. The electric scooter has one or more electric auxiliary propulsion motors; and

  1. This notice expires on 30 September 2023.

Dated at Wellington this 18th day of September 2018.

(Signed) Brandon Mainwaring, Senior Manager, Operational Policy, Planning and Performance, NZ Transport Agency.

Right now, one can ride an e-scooter on the pavement. However, Phil Geoff, the mayor of Auckland was quoted through a news release aired via Radio New Zealand, on November

  1. 2018 that the policy however, needs to change. “It makes much more sense for them (e-scooter riders) to be on the cycle-ways than on the footpath.” The mayor said that it could require a regulatory change, for which he would be pushing for, and added he supported the idea of a speed-limit change, but said that may require the Transport Agency to change the law.

Regarding power output, the NZ Police are not really concerned with the operation of scooters of any output, as they are not seen as motor vehicles. Electric scooters therefore, do not fall under the control of the traffic police. But if an electric scooter is over 300W, as most in New Zealand are, it is another matter.

Case in point. Again, if no one is measuring motor output, and the regulators around have not yet thoroughly evaluated how speed, not power — is the measure to be wary of, then there would be no known speed to lock in e-scooters and their riders.

Electric scooters are heavy, solid objects. The biggest ones weigh 30 kg and over, so bear in mind that IF you hit someone, or something, you can really do a lot of damage to yourself, to the other person, or on whatever the object that was hit.

Reports have likewise bared that e-scooter riders that are least likely to crash are the owner-riders who do ride with care and experience. They consciously avoid congested areas and regulate their speed according to the environment as they want to keep away from the possibility of harming themselves and causing damage to their investment – the e-scooter.

Conversely, who are the ones at risk mostly? Police reports indicate that intoxicated, reckless riders are the ones tearing up the pavement — on a rental scooter, take note. Now, it doesn’t take guesswork to figure what happens next!

This article is intended to inform and serve as a basic guide. As such, electric scooter owners are enjoined to get the necessary requirements to operate an electric scooter purchased. MEARTH electric scooters are widely popular in Australia — powerful, top-performing, high quality, belonging to the top-tier category. Mearth offers the S Series entry-level, commuter electric scooters, the RS Series ultimate long-range e-scooter, the GTS EVO Series, also dubbed as king of the road, on-and-off-terrain, heavy-duty electric scooters, and the futuristic MEARTH CYBER, a breakthrough innovation that boasts of A.I. features and functions.

Since 2019, there have been no major incidents of an electric scooter powered by a motor of over 300 Watts charged as foul and have violated any legalities. While demands for the higher-powered scooters are recurrent, as the 300W won’t do for the many kiwis who want to venture farther, to hilly terrains perhaps, and explore the great outdoors, it is anticipated from legislation to eventually allow scootering grow beyond being a transport solution, and also become a fun pastime that has actually health benefits.

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