NCBI, Irish Wheelchair Association and Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind are calling on Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan and Minister of State at the Department of Transport Hildegarde Naughton to ensure the safety of disabled pedestrians and those with mobility issues is prioritised within the Road Traffic and Roads Bill 2021.
The three organisations recognise that the use of E-Scooters are more prevalent in our communities and welcomes the introduction of legislation to cover both shared schemes and private use. However, it is abundantly clear that there are amendments required to ensure the safety of disabled pedestrians and those with limited mobility within the legislation.
The three organisations have circulated a position paper with members of the Oireachtas and have asked for their support in bringing forward amendments to the proposed legislation.
Concerns and Solutions
- Keeping Footpaths Safe
Under no circumstances should e-scooters be permitted for usage on footpaths. The Road Traffic and Roads Bill 2021 must expressly prohibit the use of E-Scooters on footpaths and include such usage as an offence.
- Maximum speed limits for E-scooters
The legislation currently allows for maximum speed limit of 25 kph and must be reduced to 12kph in line with other European countries, with consideration given to lower speeds around certain areas such as schools to 6 kph.
- Alert Vehicular Acoustic System (AVAS)
AVAS should be required on all E-Scooters so they can be heard approaching. This is essential for the safety of pedestrians who are blind or vision impaired. The EU regulation 540/2014 mandates all manufacturers to equip their new electric and hybrid vehicles with an Alert Vehicular Acoustic System (AVAS) by 1 July 2021. While this regulation does not cover e-scooters, it presents an opportunity for Ireland to lead out on legislation in this area. In addition to AVAS, operators should offer e-scooters with bells which are easily accessible to the driver without them having to move their hands from the handlebars.
- Designated parking bays for E-Scooters
Free floating, lock to parking must be prohibited. Designated parking bays should be enclosed with high contrast and off the pedestrian accessway in order to prevent injuries for disabled pedestrians and those with limited mobility. These parking bays should ensure a detectable kerb (minimum height of 60mm) which separates walkways from parked e-scooters. Placement of designated parking bays must take into consideration the recommended circulation space of 2000mm when there is a raised kerb open to an adjoining carriageway. Where this pathway width is not possible, the pathway or approach route should remain unobstructed and have a clear minimum width of 1700mm with passing spaces for wheelchair users and 2000mm for Guide Dog users.
There must be areas within each community where E-Scooters are prohibited from use such as in shared use spaces. Geo-fencing is one potential solution which can minimise risk and can be used specifically to the local context, reducing speeds or implementing no go zones in shared spaces, areas with high foot fall and congested, high risk areas such as shared cycle lanes and those not segregated from bus stops.
- Insurance and licensing
Provision for insurance and at least a provisional licence must be included within the legislation. The requirement to hold a Provisional Licence is aligned with the age requirements within the legislation and it would ensure that they have a thorough understanding of the Rules of the Road. It is also essential that E-scooters have accessible registration plates so that if they break the rules of the road, riders can be identified, and fined or prosecuted.
- Minimum Age Requirement
The current Bill does not impose a minimum age requirement for the use of e-scooters but we feel it is should be 16 years of age to demonstrate some knowledge and competency of the rules of the road.
How can you get involved?
NCBI will continue to leverage all options available to us to ensure our points as highlighted above are covered in the relevant legislation, operational guides and any associated documents.
Please get involved and have your voice heard:
- NCBI encourages you to contact your local councillors and TDs regarding your individual concerns around the necessary safety measures required where e-scooters are in use. This will help to raise awareness around the impact to independence and confidence when accessing the community due to these changes and the need for the legislation to include the measures outlined above to support safe and independent movement by people who are blind and vision impaired.
- Contact your local radio station and ask them if you can come on air to speak about your individual concerns about e-scooters in your community.
- Contact your local newspaper to ask if you can do an interview with a journalist about your concerns.
Reporting E-Scooter collisions or near misses
A number of service users have reported incidents with E-Scooters in recent months. NCBI would like to gather information about any incidents that people may have had to help us inform policy makers and other stakeholders.
If you or someone you know does have a collision or near miss please complete the form that is linked here: