Lime seeks e-scooter legalisation but with cap on speed

Global scooter company says Ireland one of only three EU states to prohibit e-scooters

An e-scooter seen being used near Ballsbridge, Dublin. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

An e-scooter seen being used near Ballsbridge, Dublin. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

The electric scooter share service Lime has urged the Government to legalise e-scooters in the Republic but only for use on roads and cycle lanes, and with a capped maximum speed of 25km per hour.

Lime, which runs shared e-scooters schemes in more than 40 cites globally, said micromobility vehicles could provide “an important alternative” to travelling by car.

In a recent submission to a public consultation announced by Minister for Transport Shane Ross earlier this year on whether to amend legislation to allow e-scooters on Irish roads, Lime noted that the Republic is one of just three EU member states – alongside the UK and the Netherlands – to continue to prohibit the use of e-scooters on public roads.

The California-headquartered company, which established a regional headquarters in Dublin during the summer, has raised more than $765 million (€685 million) to date from investors and facilitated over 100 million e-scooter journeys since 2017.

It said it supports “a robust regulatory framework” that will ensure high levels of safety for riders and other road users, without disproportionately raising barriers to e-scooter use.

“For Irish cities to harness the benefits of e-scooter use, regulation should align closely with existing laws governing bikes and ebikes – and be consistent with a means of transport the government wishes to encourage. As with cycling, rules should avoid disincentivising people from using an e-scooter,” the company said in its submission.

Cycle lanes

Lime, which also called for the introduction of shared schemes, recommends that e-scooters should only be permitted on roads with speed limits of up to 50km/h and in cycle lanes, with use on pavements strictly prohibited.

It also calls for a capped maximum speed of 25km/h, a maximum weight of 55kg and power output of no more than 500w for e-scooters.

Regulation should “encourage, but not require” riders to wear a helmet or specialised safety clothing. In addition, the company argues against requiring users to have registration plates, a licence or insurance.

The operator also says riders should be aged a minimum of 16 before being allowed to ride e-scooters on public roads.

Dublin City Council in its own recent submission insisted additional rules should apply, including high-visibility clothing, driver testing and insurance.

“E-scooters are increasingly popular and evidence shows they are playing a significant role in reducing the number of journeys made by private vehicles in cities. This can help tackle congestion and reduce air pollution in addition to increasing transport capacity without significant investment of public funds,” the company said.

Lime claims in its submission that about 25 per cent of journeys made on one of its scooters typically replaces a trip that would otherwise have been made in a car or taxi.

“Given the existing demand for e-scooters in Ireland, evidenced by the number of people currently using them illegally, legal e-scooter adoption is likely to be high. This indicates that legalising e-scooters in Ireland could deliver the benefits already being seen elsewhere in Europe,” it said.