Minister opens public consultation on the use of e-scooters

by Padraig Conlon

The public are being asked to give their opinion on whether e-scooters should be legal on Irish roads.

This is because the Department of Transport launched a public consultation process on Sunday 1st September that will last two months.

A government report recommended the machines should be legalised, but with strict conditions on licensing, speed restrictions and visibility.

The report was commissioned by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and was submitted to Transport Minister Shane Ross back in June.

Researchers examined the legal framework governing e-scooters in various other jurisdictions, particularly in Europe before deciding on their recommendation.

E-scooters are not regulated or defined in current legislation, which makes them illegal to use on Irish roads.

The scooters, which have grown in popularity in recent years, are now becoming a common sight, and pressure has grown on the government to address the gap in legislation.

Launching the public consultation, Minister Ross said: “Ireland is not unique in facing up to the issue of either continuing to ban or regularising the growing presence of powered personal transporters and particularly e scooters.

“Administrations across Europe are facing similar challenges. The report commissioned by the RSA outlines how there is no universal consensus in other countries in how to approach this issue.”

“I believe this eight-week consultation period will allow us to hear from a wide variety of stakeholders, interest groups, safety organisations and members of the public which will better inform us as to how to address this changing commuter and transport landscape.”

The transport minister is seeking to develop regulation for the devices which can reach speeds of up to 40km/h.

If the machines are regulated here, Dublin will be a very attractive place for international firms who offer scooter sharing schemes for subscribers which work through a mobile app used to locate scooters nearby.

Subscribers can then scan a QR code to unlock the machines.

Several firms have already contacted the council about operating in Dublin, but the head of transport advised against allowing them because of concern about the machines’ legal status and safety.

Fianna Fail TD for Dublin Mid-West, John Curran has criticised Minister Ross for failing to introduce legislation for e-scooters, despite receiving the Road Safety Authority’s report two months ago.

Speaking after receiving new information through a parliamentary question from Minister Ross, Curran said: “Currently e-scooters are considered to be mechanically propelled vehicles, therefore users of these vehicles must have insurance, road tax and a driving licence, with penalties under road traffic laws (including fixed charge notices, penalty points, fines and possible seizure of the vehicle) for not being in compliance with these requirements,” he said.

“Yet it is currently not possible to tax or insure e-scooters.

“This contradiction in the legislation is ridiculous and needs urgent attention from Government.

“The use of e-scooters is becoming increasingly popular across Dublin, especially among young people and this is to be welcomed.

“They offer a green alternative to commuters making short journeys around the city and suburbs and have the potential to reduce congestion.

“I see parents using them to do the school drop off, while their children scoot or cycle beside them, this has to be encouraged.

“The Government’s reaction has been to look the other way and pretend it isn’t happening.

“There is no doubt that these devices have the potential to make a very positive impact on transport in the city and we need a plan.

“We want to see less cars on the roads, but we want people to be responsible and safe and to minimise the potential for any accidents and injuries.”

Submissions to the public consultation can be made on the Department of Transport website

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