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E-scooters: A road safety concern

In recent months, E-scooters have become increasingly common with many people looking for alternatives to public transport. 

However, despite their popularity here in Ireland, the only place to legally ride an e-scooter is on private land with the permission of the land owner – riding an e-scooter anywhere else is against the law. 

As of now, it is not possible to tax or insure e-scooters for use in a public place in the Republic of Ireland. Some e-scooters are classed as Mechanically Propelled Vehicles and they require a license, tax and insurance. And, just like cars and other engine-powered vehicles, this means they cannot be used on public footpaths. 

In an attempt to correct this position, the Government have announced plans to introduce a new legislation. Under the Road Traffic (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2021, a new vehicle category, ‘Powered Personal Transporters’, would be created to allow use of e-scooters and similar devices in public without any necessity for driving license, tax or insurance.  

This would treat e-scooters in a similar manner to bicycles; although, more powerful models will be treated as light mopeds.  

It is expected a number of safety measures proposed by e-scooter service operators will be introduced under the Bill, including: 

  • A minimum age for use of 16 years;  
  • Compulsory helmets for those aged between 16 and 18
  • An upper speed limit of 25km/h  
  • A ban of use on footpaths.

The road safety office in Mayo County Council is highlighting the impact e-scooter use is having, particularly for those with sight or hearing loss. 

It is also advising anyone who is contemplating purchasing or using an e-scooter, that they are risking being issued with a fine and having the e-scooter seized. 

Noel Gibbons Road Safety officer said: “Some people may not realise that they are affecting anyone by illegally riding an e-scooter, but they can be incredibly frightening to someone with sight or hearing loss or older road users. 

“We are asking people to consider how they would feel if they, or a member of their family with a visual or hearing impairment, were genuinely afraid of being knocked down by an e-scooter every time they went out. 

“We are aware that some people are riding e-scooters on the pavement with no regard for the safety of others. This is totally unacceptable and we are grateful that our Garda colleagues are taking robust action against these individuals.” 

Clare Cronin Communications Manager the Disability Federation of Ireland said 

“E-scooters are powered mobility vehicles. it is common sense they should never operate on footpaths which are designed for pedestrians. They create an unacceptable risk to all pedestrians but especially those with mobility impairments. Road users with mobility impairments are also at high risk in our view. 

The risk of serious injury and adverse consequences to pedestrians is high. Mobility impaired pedestrians may be forced to reduce or discontinue their public participation, and this is not acceptable to the Disability Federation of Ireland, DFI.” 

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