- Electric personal mobility devices, including e-scooters, should be defined in legislation, and any such definition should be sufficiently broad to future-proof the legislation to account for the pace of development of this technology. Consideration could be given to revising the classification of a mechanically propelled vehicle (MPV), or indeed the creation of a new category of electric MPV (eMPV)
- Devices permitted on Irish roads should adhere to minimum safety standards e.g. maximum speed of 20km/h. In addition, design features for devices permitted on Irish roads should prioritise safety features, such as brakes, lighting and audible warning mechanisms. A review of the draft EU standard, CEN, could be considered in this context.
- Some jurisdictions allow such devices on footpaths provided they do not exceed a speed of 6km/h. From a practical perspective this would be very difficult to enforce, and therefore because of the risk which the use of these devices would pose to pedestrians if travelling at higher speeds, I recommend that they should not be used on footpaths.
- I believe there is merit, also on safety grounds, to limit their use to roads with a speed limit of 50km/h or less. Ideally, their use should be curtailed to 30km/h zones. They could be used in cycle lanes, where available.
- A system should be put in place whereby device operators must seek a permit for the leasing of these devices, either from a national authority, or from a local authority. They must adhere to specific guidelines (e.g. safety features of devices, parking of devices while not in use, proposals to avoid congestion) for the granting of a permit. Each relevant Local Authority should oversee compliance with these guidelines, and mandate training as part of the permit approval process. They could also limit the number of permits to ensure an over proliferation of these devices does not occur.
- In some countries an age restriction applies to the user, depending on the power of the device. This is a pragmatic approach that should be considered e.g. minimum age of 16 for use of a device with a maximum speed of 20km/h. While I do not propose making PPE mandatory, users should be encouraged to wear helmets and high visibility clothing, as per our recommendation for cyclists.
- Rather than regulating for the use of these devices at national level, it may be appropriate for Local Authorities to pass bye-laws to regulate for these,depending on the suitability of local infrastructure. Local Authorities will need to give consideration to the future-proofing of infrastructure to account for the growth in popularity of these devices. Overall, from a safety perspective, it is critical that Ireland’s infrastructure is fit for purpose to accommodate the safe use of these devices, and that dedicated parking spaces are provided, or adequate collection measures are implemented, to avoid a proliferation of hazards on pavements or roads / cycle lanes. The Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area 2016 – 2035 calls out the inadequacy of the current infrastructure (Section 3.2), and consideration must be given by transport planners to ensure the current infrastructure in enhanced for all vulnerable road users, and capable of accommodating electronic personal mobility devices.
Finally, legislation will also need to be considered to give An Garda Síochána the necessary powers to enforce the safe and legal use of electric personal mobility devices.
To review the review of current practice and safety implications of electric mobility devices see here