Charity calls for e-scooters to make a sound as blind people don’t ‘feel safe’

Electric scooters should be required to emit universal sound to reduce pedestrian collisions, MPs heard.

Clive Wood, policy and campaign manager for charity Guide Dogs, called on the government to bring up legislation because the use of the devices on pavements means that many blind and partially sighted people do not “feel safe”.

Some e-scooter operators are investigating the use of different sounds, but “we need to see this being led by the Department for Transport (DfT),” according to Mr Wood.

He told the Transportation Select Committee: “We need a standard that is uniform. We cannot have different sounds.

“I want to be able to go anywhere in the country and if I hear a specific sound, I know it’s an electric scooter.”

In December, the DfT published the results of a survey of 3,600 residents in 10 areas of England that were hosting trials of electric scooter rental schemes.

Some 93% of those surveyed reported seeing at least one form of anti-social behavior from users of private or rental electric scooters, with people riding on sidewalks being the most common problem.

Mr Wood said: “We can’t have a situation where people don’t feel confident that they can travel independently on a trail.

“There is a sidewalk for me and other blind or partially sighted people so we can feel safe.

“At the moment, that is not happening with the number of e-scooters being used irresponsibly on the sidewalks.

“The power of an e-scooter means that you can reach extreme speed very quickly compared to electric bikes or regular bikes.

Rental e-scooters parked on the street (Alamy/PA)

Rental e-scooters parked on the street (Alamy/PA)

“They are heavy and right now a lot of electric scooters don’t have sound.

“So I think it’s about trying to see how we can prevent e-scooter use through regulation and legislation in terms of pavement use, but also in other areas, for example shared space areas.

“It’s a legitimate and real concern for people who are blind or partially sighted and other people with disabilities and also for other pedestrians.”

Figures from DfT show that one pedestrian was killed and 62 seriously injured in collisions with electric scooters in Britain during the 12 months to the end of June 2022.

Another 180 suffered minor injuries.

Eleven e-scooter users died in accidents during the same period.

Private e-scooters cannot legally be used on roads or pavements in the UK, but they have become commonplace.

Road testing of rental e-scooters in dozens of towns and cities across England has been extended until May 2024.

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