E-scooter declaration renewal decision

Waka Kotahi has decided to renew the E-scooter (Declaration Not to be Motor Vehicles) Notice for a period of five years. The new expiry date is 30 September 2028.

E-Scooters (Declaration Not to be Motor Vehicles) Notice 2023(external link)

Keep reading for more information about the declaration and what it means.

About the e-scooter declaration

The declaration exempts e-scooters with a maximum power output of 300 watts, and that meet other criteria set out in the declaration, from being classified as motor vehicles. This means they are not required to meet motor vehicle standards or be registered when used – for example, it means that riders are not required to have a driver’s licence and e-scooters do not have to have number plates on them.

By declaring that e-scooters are not motor vehicles, it has the effect of allowing e-scooters to be used on footpaths.

However, riders are required to comply with the requirements of the Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004, which states that people riding an e-scooter on the footpath must:

  • operate in a careful and considerate manner (for example, if you are able to ride on a footpath with a lot of pedestrians, consider using the road or getting off the e-scooter and pushing/carrying it until there are fewer people)
  • not operate the device at a speed that creates a hazard to other footpath users
  • give way to pedestrians and people using mobility devices (eg, a mobility scooter).

The rule also requires people riding e-scooters on the road to remain as near as possible to the edge of the road when riding.

Why we decided to renew the declaration

We have made the decision to renew the declaration for five years, after reviewing the effectiveness and safety of e-scooters, and engagement with key stakeholders and an online public survey.

We’ve taken a range of factors into account when making this decision, to balance the contribution that e-scooters make to an effective and efficient land transport system and safety concerns.

Our overall conclusion is that e-scooters have made, and continue to make, a useful contribution to the land transport system. We have found that they are being used more across New Zealand, that they’re used more for getting from one place to another rather than just for fun, user satisfaction is high, and e-scooters can help reduce emissions.

Without a declaration in place, e-scooters would not be able to be used anywhere other than on private property.

Our review found that e-scooter safety is comparable to other modes such as cycling, however we acknowledge that there are safety concerns about e-scooters and the way they are used.

While there are mechanisms in place to ensure the safety of e-scooters, such as geo-fenced no-go and low-speed zones for rental e-scooters, we think there are areas for improvement such as lower speed limits in high pedestrian areas and use of speed limit signs.

During the next five years we plan to identify enhancements to existing systems and promote safe use of e-scooters for users and pedestrians.

The enhancements will require a co-ordinated approach between Waka Kotahi, local authorities, share-scheme e-scooter operators, the Ministry of Transport, Police, and others.

What our review found

The review included:

  • a safety assessment on current measures and areas of concern
  • an effectiveness review to look at e-scooter contribution to the land transport system
  • a compliance and enforcement review to understand what the current systems deliver and where improvements can be made
  • engagement with key stakeholders and a public survey to help inform the review.

Safety assessment

The safety assessment identified that the greatest risk is to e-scooter riders themselves and that the risk to pedestrians is low. It also found that e-scooters sit within the same safety range as cycling and motorcycling.

While ACC claims and costs for e-scooters are lower than for other active transport modes (including bikes, skateboards and walking), there is evidence that the rate of injury per minute of travel is higher. There was less data on pedestrian injury rates, but the data reviewed shows pedestrians are significantly less likely to be hospitalised than riders.

Actual and perceived safety is important to distinguish. Stakeholder testimonies and the public survey showed a substantial number of pedestrians feeling anxious or stressed about sharing footpaths with e-scooters.  

Safety assessment report [PDF, 861 KB]

Effectiveness review

The effectiveness review looked at how e-scooters are used and how often, their cost effectiveness, user satisfaction ratings and their environmental impact.

Data showed a general increase in e-scooter rentals across New Zealand. More and more, e-scooters are being used more for getting from one place to another rather than just for fun. User satisfaction with e-scooters is high. However, many users would like to see tighter regulation, and more suitable infrastructure (such as shared paths).

The review has also found that e-scooters can help reduce emissions.

Effectiveness review report [PDF, 1.5 MB]

Compliance review

The Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004 sets out general rules for using e-scooters and requires riders to operate e-scooters in a careful and considerate manner, and at a speed which is not hazardous to other footpath users.

Riders must give way to pedestrians and ride as near as possible to the edge of the road when on a road. Devices must be parked considerately leaving paths clear for other users. Compliance is improving but more improvement is desired. Shared e-scooter schemes are regulated by local government through bylaws and codes of practice. The codes control their use through no-go zones which have high rates of compliance through GPS monitoring and control.

Electronic device controls on e-scooter fleets also deliver zoned speed limits. Private e-scooter users are not controlled by licensing and codes of practice, however, they are observed to exercise a greater level of ‘good’ behaviour and are more considerate around other road users.

Compliance review report [PDF, 239 KB]

Public survey and stakeholder engagement 

Overall, the public survey and stakeholder feedback supported the renewal of the declaration.

Our survey received 5,644 responses. Of these, 3,670 responses supported the renewal of the declaration, and 1,580 responses wanted the declaration to lapse. The split between for and against largely reflected whether respondents were e-scooter users or not. A greater number of people who use e-scooters replied to the survey than people who do not use e-scooters.

We also engaged with stakeholders such as local authorities, e-scooter hire companies and disability and pedestrian advocacy groups. All local authorities we engaged with supported the renewal, and they were satisfied with the current settings for e-scooter operation. Advocacy groups were against the renewal, citing their membership’s concerns for pedestrian safety. They felt e-scooters are a danger to other footpath users due to their speed, hazardous parking and lack of noise as they travel. 

Stakeholder engagement report [PDF, 658 KB]

About declarations

Under section 168A of the Land Transport Act 1998, Waka Kotahi can declare that a vehicle or device is not a motor vehicle. Waka Kotahi has made declarations for e-bikes, YikeBikes, and e-scooters (all with a maximum power output of 300 watts or less).

Once a vehicle/device has been declared, it is no longer required to meet certain motor vehicle standards or be registered when used. For example, people who ride e-scooters, YikeBikes or e-bikes are not required to have a driver’s licence, and devices do not need to be registered or have number plates on them.

Waka Kotahi can declare that a vehicle/device is not a motor vehicle, but only if the vehicle/device has a maximum power output of:

  • 300 watts or less, or
  • between 301 and 600 watts.