E-scooters, which are electrically motorised versions of the scooters we all used to ride on as kids, are becoming ever more popular as ‘last-mile’ urban transport solutions, providing nippy in-town transportation that can be easily stowed at their destination, while proving much quicker than walking. But what are the legalities of riding an e-scooter in Ireland?
The Current Law
As of the time of writing this, it’s relatively straightforward on the overall rule: e-scooters are illegal to be used on public roads. This is because legislation to govern what personal protection equipment you need to wear, as well as where and when the e-scooters can be ridden and at what speeds, is yet to be agreed. Indeed, in October 2019, the first two cases of people riding e-scooters without insurance on public roads were brought to court by a garda from the Dublin Traffic Department.
However, the law may change very soon. A lengthy period of public consultation was held in the latter half of 2019, with the Road Safety Authority (RSA) recommending various safeguards such as rider training, rider licensing and the mandatory wearing of helmets as items that would need to be implemented to legalise e-scooters’ use on the public highway.
The RSA also recommended a system similar to ring-fencing, in which e-scooters would only be allowed on certain, authorised sections of the public highway, rather than being given a blanket access to all streets and roads. Furthermore, it is expected that if e-scooters are legalised for use on public roads, then – like all forms of personal transport on the highways – they would have to be subjected to speed limits.
Currently, no start-up business that run scooter-sharing schemes have offered the e-scooters due to the legal grey area that they reside in, but there are plenty of privately owned e-scooters in the country, which could be subjected to prosecution if they’re being used on the public highways. There are also concerns from opponents of the idea of legalising them that their very small wheels and (relatively) high speeds would present a safety risk, in terms of potholes and imperfections in public road surfaces.
The Department of Transport, headed by the Minister for Transport, is expected to make a final decision on the legalisation or otherwise of e-scooters this year.
Read our review of the SEAT exS electric scooter here
Carzone - 28-Jan-2020