In response to the increasing number of people with mobility issues and disabilities, the NCBI, Irish Guide Dogs for The Blind, and the Irish Wheelchair Association are calling on the Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan and Minister of State at the Department of Transport Hildegarde Naughton to ensure that the safety of these individuals is prioritized in the Road Traffic and Road Bill 2021.
The three organizations have urged the Minister for Transport to ensure that provisions in the Bill include a special focus on the safety of those with mobility impairments and disabled pedestrians.
Although they support the concept of regulating both private and shared e-Scooter use, the three organizations noted that there are still many amendments that need to be made to ensure that the legislation is focused on the safety of individuals with mobility impairments and those with limited independence.
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 should be 16 years of age to demonstrate some knowledge and competency of the rules of the road.
Due to the increasing number of incidents involving e-Scooters, the NCBI is conducting a survey to gather information about the incidents that have occurred in the past few months.
If you or someone you know does have a collision, please complete the survey in the following link: Share your experiences of E-Scooters (office.com)
Here is the official site where you can find more details about the campaign: https://www.ncbi.ie/escooter-legislation/