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Dublin: 7 °C Thursday 14 November, 2019
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E-scooter scheme similar to Dublin Bikes 'could help solve Dublin's commuter misery'

That’s according to Fianna Fáil’s Marc MacSharry, who says e-scooter users are left in limbo with no regulations.

A public consultation is currently underway by the Department of Transport.
A public consultation is currently underway by the Department of Transport.
Image: Shutterstock/Leika production

FIANNA FÁIL HAS said an electric scooters scheme, similar to that of Dublin Bikes, could help solve Dublin’s “commuter misery”. 

Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Transport, Tourism, and Sport Marc Mac Sharry said his party are pushing ahead with their Bill to regulate the use of electric scooters.

The Bill, which will be discussed at second stage in the Dáil tomorrow evening, removes the requirement for e-scooters and e-bikes to be taxed and insured by altering the definition of mechanically propelled vehicles.

Currently, e-scooters are not regulated or defined in legislation, making them illegal to use on Irish roads.

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

In August, a report by the Road Safety Authority recommended changes to how the increasingly popular mode of transport is regulated. On foot of the report, Transport Minister Shane Ross launched a public consultation on the issue starting in September. 

However, Mac Sharry has said users are left in limbo with no regulations.

“The use of e-scooters is growing in popularity with commuters and companies in our cities offering e-scooter rental to tourists. There needs to be clarity brought to their use as they are in a legal limbo.

“As it stands, e-scooter users should 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.

“Despite this, it is currently not possible to tax or insure e-scooters, so they are essentially illegal on Irish roads,” he said. 

He added that amendments can be made to their proposed legislation, but allowing the Bill to pass would ensure that it reaches Committee Stage (where amendments can be discussed to the proposed new law) at the same time the public consultation concludes. 

“The reality is that e-scooters will be used, especially among young people. They offer a green alternative to commuters making short journeys around the city and suburbs. E-scooters have the potential to reduce congestion and emissions.

‘Commuter misery’

Mac Sharry said that instead of talking about rule changes, his Bill will get things moving and help with the “commuter misery” people are experiencing on a daily basis in the capital. 

Spokesperson for Dublin John Lahart said the transport minister has to recognise the changing methods of commuting.

“We need to regulate for the safe use of e-scooters and electric bicycles. Our cycle lanes, bus lanes, and roads in Dublin are changing and carrying different modes of transport. This will only continue as we seek to meet our climate action goals with carbon friendly methods of transport,” he said, adding that regulating for the safe use of e-scooters can “go some way to addressing the congestion crisis in Dublin city”.

Having met with some of the e-scooter manufacturers, Lahart said they offer an “exciting opportunity” for an alternative form of transport in Dublin city. 

Like the Dublin Bikes scheme, Lahart said e-scooters for rent “could be part of a smart city strategy”. 

Having e-scooters for rent alongside bikes will ensure lessons are learned from other jurisdictions, said Lahart, who added that it would ensure that electric scooters are not left abandoned on the side of the street like they are in other cities. 

In terms of the details of the Bill, it proposes that e-scooters can only be used on cycle lanes, and are prohibited from pedestrianised areas and pathways. It also suggests that helmets should be mandatory, and the speed limit set at 25 kilometres per hour. 

To ensure speeds are adhered to, the Bill suggests that manufacturers would have to ensure all electric scooters have speedometers installed. Existing scooters, which do not have such devices would also have to have them installed, though Lahart said this would be a matter the Road Safety Authority would deal with. 

Mac Sharry said there had been some misunderstandings in media coverage to date about the degree of fines electric scooter users could face.

While he said Class C and D fines sets out that fines could be as much as €1,500 to €2,000, Mac Sharry said such issues would be at the discretion of the courts. He said fines could refined further. He added that speeding fines could be similar to speeding fines on the road or maybe less, giving a figure of €60 or €70. 

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