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Lime sour but e-scooter snub likely to stand


The CEO of Adelaide City Council has rejected e-scooter company Lime’s claims that the process that saw it rejected in favour of other operators was unfair and neglected public safety.

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As InDaily revealed yesterday, Lime e-scooters will be removed from Adelaide city footpaths by the end of the week because the firm failed to enforce council-imposed geographic boundaries.

The company’s highly-visible electric scooters, first introduced in their hundreds as part of a trial during this year’s Adelaide festival season, will be replaced with e-scooters run by Melbourne-based company Ride and Singapore-based company Beam.

Lime Asia Pacific director of government affairs Mitchell Price reacted furiously to the news yesterday.

He argued that a panel of bureaucrats, from Adelaide City Council and the State Government, had “put safety last” by recommending Ride and Beam, which were willing to slow their GPS-enabled e-scooters to a stop when a commuter enters prohibited areas, such as outside the CBD and in Rundle Mall.

He said the council had run an “unfair” process, and wrote to council CEO Mark Goldstone requesting that no new operator be allowed to start until the decision is reviewed.

“No evaluation criteria for any operators was released,” Price claimed in his letter.

“This is not consistent with usual procurement practices and warrants review by a third party.”

However, Goldstone told InDaily he was confident in the integrity of the expressions of interest process,and Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor said she saw no justification to review the decision.

“The commencement of the new permit will not be postponed and I remain confident in the integrity of the EOI process,” Goldstone told InDaily today.

“We are excited to welcome Beam and Ride into the city for this further 6 month trial, which will offer choice for our residents and visitors in the use of contemporary mobility transport/e-scooters.

“This next trial will ensure all operational requirements that (the) council needs to implement can be accommodated.”

He said the council would implement a “service provision model” to ensure long-term benefit for people in the city.

…the operator could not comply with the permit conditions to the standard of other proponents.

In order for the new operators’ permit to be delayed, Goldstone would have had to order it, or Verschoor would have had to call a special meeting of the council.

“I don’t believe there is a case for review and there is no special (meeting) being called,” Verschoor told InDaily by text message today.

Some councillors are open to reviewing the process.

“I think it would be a fair thing to say that we should look at doing an independent review of the decision,” said area councillor Arman Abrahimzadeh.

“From the talks and the negotiations it seemed to just be mostly about the stopping at the geofence and the problems the administration had with that.

“I would have liked to explore that a bit more.”

However he questioned what the review would look like.

“When they say an independent review would council do that or would it be someone else?” said Abrahimzadeh.

“Would it have the personnel in council or would we have an independent panel? And then, where would those people come from?

“These are the things that would have to be considered first.”

The council-defined boundaries of the “geofence” e-scooter providers are expected to maintain. Image: supplied

A confidential email sent to elected members from council director of operations Beth Davidson-Park, obtained and published by InDaily yesterday, says:

“Lime’s e-scooter was not able to come to a stop when entering a prohibited or restricted area, it demonstrated that the e-scooter could reduce to a speed of 4km/h but users would still be able to ride the e-scooter at a walking pace.”

“Lime indicated that it would not stop its e-scooters in restricted areas, based on Lime’s own safety reasons,” the confidential email reads.

“This did not meet the requirements of the evaluation and demonstration, and mean that the operator could not comply with the permit conditions to the standard of other proponents.”

Deputy Lord Mayor Houssam Abiad told InDaily the council’s administration had delivered a good process to allocate the new e-scooter permits.

“If they (Lime) are calling for an independent evaluation then I would like to know exactly what their specific concerns are, because that hasn’t been covered anywhere in the media I have seen,” he said.

In response to Lime’s stated concern about e-scooters stopping at council-imposed geographic boundaries, he said “none of them stop suddenly – they just slow down and stop”.

“I’m not sure why that would be a safety issue.”

Area councillors Franz Knoll and Robert Simms, and North Ward councillor Phil Martin, each said they trusted the process and did not see a reason to review it at this stage.

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