Attempting to ban electric scooters would be counterproductive and difficult to enforce, while regulating them could help the State to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a Government-commissioned report has found.
The report, which has been seen by The Irish Times, has been submitted to Minister for Transport Shane Ross and was commissioned by the Road Safety Authority.
Electric scooters are currently not regulated in Ireland and are technically illegal. It is understood the Garda, which has been one of a number of strong dissenting voices on the issue, has expressed opposition to legalising the scooters on safety grounds.
While the report recommended the formation of “clear safety standards”, training for users, and targeted public campaigns promoting the use of safety equipment, it also said anecdotal evidence suggested injuries on e-scooters “are generally minor”.
It called for “advisory guidelines” to be formed in conjunction with the Garda to minimise the likelihood of high-speed interactions. “For example, prohibiting powered transporters from high-speed roads,” it said.
“Guidelines should consider other road users (including pedestrians). For example, if powered transporters are allowed on pavements, there could be a maximum speed of 6km/h to protect pedestrians.”
The report said its review of other jurisdictions provided “some support” for clarification on “who exactly is permitted to use different devices” including the setting of age limits and licence requirements.
It is clear that they have potential to reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality, and promote active travel
“In most countries there is increased uptake by users, regardless of the legal situation, and little enforcement of any regulations that exist, and hence an outright ban would be both counterintuitive and impractical,” it said.
“It is recommended that powered transporters should be allowed for use in certain circumstances, with a controlled and considered roll-out to mitigate against potential negative safety implications.”
The report recommended setting “clear terms for vehicle classification” based on safety, which must be able to accommodate different powered transporter types in order to future-proof against further technology innovation.
The report said e-scooters could even help the State hit its targets for the reduction of greenhouse emissions.
“It is clear that they have potential to reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality, and promote active travel if they are used in the right ways in place of less sustainable modes of transport such as the private motor vehicle,” it said.
“Since, for most governing bodies, there are clear local, national and international targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality, an outright ban on powered transporters would seem counterintuitive.”
Mr Ross is expected to announce in the coming days that he will begin a short and focused public consultation on e-scooters, starting on September 1st and concluding on October 31st, after which the issue of tax, insurance and licence will be considered.