What would change for Irish e-scooter owners under proposed Bill?

16 Oct 2019

Image: © bortnikau/Stock.adobe.com

A new bill set to be put forward by Fianna Fáil could be about to make new laws for e-scooter owners, including a speed limit.

A Bill expected to be put to the Dáil later this evening (16 October) by Fianna Fáil could turn the grey area of e-scooter legislation into a clearer black-and-white issue. It comes ahead of the conclusion of a public consultation on e-scooters on 31 October launched by the Government after recommendations by the Road Safety Authority.

Under the existing Road Traffic Act 1961, e-scooters are considered a ‘mechanically propelled vehicle’. This would require them to be taxed and insured as any other car, truck or motorcycle, which none of the thousands estimated to be travelling on Irish roads are.

According to the Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Transport, Tourism and Sport, Marc Mac Sharry, TD, the proposed Bill would alter the definition of a mechanically propelled vehicle to make e-scooters and e-bikes exempt.

“The reality is that e-scooters will be used, especially among young people. They offer a green alternative to commuters making short journeys around the city and suburbs. E-scooters have the potential to reduce congestion and emissions,” Mac Sharry said.

‘We have to get people out of cars’

As for what the Bill would mean for the average e-scooter user, the Irish Examiner has reported some of its proposals including speed limits, possible fines and their use being limited to certain areas.

The first of these proposals is a 25kph speed limit, which would be built into e-scooters sold in Ireland. Anyone caught tampering with the in-built speed limiter would be liable for fines of up to €2,500. However, Mac Sharry has suggested that the speeding fine itself should be brought in line with existing speed fines of around €60.

E-scooter owners would also be required to stay within cycle lanes, sharing the space with bicycle commuters. While admitting that sharing the space with these relatively new vehicles would cause some congestion, Mick McKillen of Cyclist.ie said it would be beneficial in the long run.

“Every scooter is one less car on our roads and, from a climate action perspective, we have to get people out of cars,” he told the Examiner.

The passing of e-scooter legislation could see a string of companies offering ride-sharing services in Ireland, many of which have been waiting eagerly on the sidelines. Among them is Voi, which spoke with Siliconrepublic.com earlier this year. The company’s head of PR, Kristina Hunter Nilsson, said at the time that the Swedish firm was working to influence opinion among legislators to launch in Dublin and elsewhere in Ireland.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic