E-scooters should be registered and insured before they are allowed in use on public roads, according to the State body with responsibility for the national road network.
Transport Infrastructure Ireland has recommended to the Government that such measures should be included in a new bill designed to legalise the use of e-scooters in order to identify any users who breach road traffic laws.
TII pointed that requirements to register and insure e-scooters were already in place in several countries such as Germany and Belgium.
It claimed registration and insurance for e-scooters would act as a deterrent for users who failed to obey traffic rules or who caused obstructions on footpaths and assist with enforcement of road traffic legislation.
In a submission to the Department of Transport on the proposed Road Traffic (Miscellaneous Provision Bill). TII recommended a range of other measures to facilitate the safe introduction of e-scooters on Irish roads.
In line with other European countries where legislation to regulate the use of e-scooters has already been introduced, TII has called for them to be banned from use on footpaths.
TII said the e-scooters should also be limited to use on roads and streets with a maximum speed limit of 50km/h It noted that the European Commission has recommended that vulnerable road users should be physically separated from motorised traffic on roads where the speed limit exceeds 30km/h.
TII also called for a ban on e-scooters from using bus lanes and tramways, while the equipment should be limited to a maximum speed of 20km/h.
“This limit recognises the injury limits of the human body and is recommended to prevent serious and fatal injury,” said senior engineer in TII’s road safety section, Suzanne Meade.
She claimed research to date indicated at speeds under 25km/h, e-scooters had the same level of risk of injury as manual bikes.
TII proposes that the minimum age limit for using e-scooters should be set at 16 years, while it recommends that the wearing of helmets should also be made mandatory.
Dr Meade said the growing popularity of e-scooters in urban areas, while contributing to lower carbon emissions from transport and a shift away from use of private cars, also presented a range of new safety challenges.
“Recent research demonstrates that e-mobility has the potential to injure pedestrians and poor parking contributes to trip hazards,” Dr Meade said.
In addition, TII has recommended that e-scooters should be required to be equipped with front and rear lights, bell and mirror as well as independent braking systems on the front and back wheels.
However, it said e-scooters with seats should not be allowed on public roads.
Dr Meade said current cycling infrastructure guidelines also needed revision to provide more space for overtaking given that cyclists and e-scooter users would be sharing the same space in many areas in future.
The Department of Transport is currently considering a range of amendments to primary legislation across what the Minister of State for Road Transport, Hildegarde Naughton, said was “a range of complex areas”.
E-scooters are currently prohibited for use on public roads as they are regarded as mechanically propelled vehicles under existing legislation.
Ms Naughton said legislation needed to be changed to take into consideration the rapid development of e-scooters in the Republic and a new category of vehicles that are being classified as “powered personal transporters”.
She said the new bill would enable existing offences such as dangerous driving or driving an unroadworthy vehicle as well as the powers of gardaí under road traffic legislation to be extended to e-scooters and similar vehicles.