The speed limit of electric scooters should be set at 12 km/h and as low as 6 km/h in built-up areas, campaigners for people who are visually impaired have suggested.
Currently the Government is proposing a speed limits for electric scooters of of 25km/h as part of the Road Traffic and Roads Bill 2021.
In a joint statement to the Oireachtas Committee on Transport, the National Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI), the Irish Wheelchair Association and the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind have described e-scooters as a particular hazard for those who are blind or partially sighted.
The three organisations presented their concerns regarding the use of e-scooters in Ireland to the committee on Wednesday which is examining the provisions of the bill.
June Tinsley of the NCBI said the 12km/h speed limit is being considered by other countries.
“The rationale for us is to instil an element of best practice and be mindful of the vulnerabilities of the rider and pedestrian. Reducing the speed is reducing the risk,” she said.
However, she said their first demand is that e-scooters are confined to the road and banned from the pavements.
All three organisations have called for a bell or a sound system for e-scooters which are silent at present.
The NCBI had been contacted by “multiple” companies involved in e-scooters requesting more information on how they are impacting disabled people.
Joanne Murphy, who is partially sighted, told the committee disabled people are "already climbing a mountain but the introduction of e-scooters that can whizz past us at 25 km/h on the footpath with no sound makes that mountain peak even higher.
“The increased use of e-scooters will likely lead to increases in accidents and near misses. That means you are forcing people with disabilities into situations of conflict which can be very hard.”
Ms Murphy who is partially sighted said her son’s assistance dog Polly refused to venture outside for two months because an e-scooter ran into the back of Polly.
“If the dog is too scared to leave the house, then the person may need a new dog and that means there is more training and bonding needed for the dog and there is a cost for the charity associated with that too,” she said.
She said there has been “very little contact” with officials in the Department of Transport after they made a submission to the department about the bill.
Oireachtas Transport committee chair Kieran O’Donnell said he will ask the department for a response in relation to the concerns.
Fine Gael TD Joe Carey said he was disturbed by the evidence offered to the committee of the experience of blind people with e-scooters.
“This will become common practice if it is not dealt with in this bill. It will have a traumatic effect on people with a disability,” he said.
He said it was disappointed that the joint submission had not received a considered response from the department. He suggested that the groups meet with the Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan and the junior minister with responsiblity for transport Hildegarde Naughton Jr.