Charity calls for e-scooters to make noise as blind people don’t ‘feel safe’

E-scooters should be required to emit a universal sound to reduce pedestrian accidents, MPs heard.

Clive Wood, policy and campaign manager at the Guide Dogs charity, called on the government to introduce legislation as using the devices on sidewalks leads many blind and partially sighted people to not “feel safe”.

Some e-scooter operators are exploring the use of different sounds, but “we need to see this being led by the Department for Transport (DfT),” Wood said.

He told the Transport Select Committee: “We need a standard that is uniform. We can’t have different sounds.

“I want to be able to go to any part of the country and if I hear a specific sound I know it’s an e-scooter.”

In December, the DfT published the results of a survey of 3,600 residents in 10 parts of England piloting e-scooter rental programmes.

About 93% of respondents reported seeing at least one form of anti-social behavior by users of rental or private e-scooters, with the most common problem being people riding on sidewalks.

Mr Wood said: “We cannot have a situation where people are not confident that they can travel independently on a footpath.

“There is a sidewalk for me and other blind or partially sighted people so that we can feel safe.

“At the moment that is not happening with the number of e-scooters that are used irresponsibly on sidewalks.

“The power of an e-scooter allows you to go to an extreme speed very quickly compared to e-bikes or normal bicycles.

Rental e-scooters parked on the street (Alamy/PA)

Rental e-scooters parked on the street (Alamy/PA)

“They are heavy and at the moment many e-scooters have no sound.

“So I think it’s about trying to look at how we can prevent the use of e-scooters through sidewalk laws and regulations, but also in other areas, so for example shared space areas.

“It’s a legitimate and current concern for the blind or visually impaired as well as other disabled people and other pedestrians.”

DfT figures show one pedestrian killed and 62 seriously injured in e-scooter collisions in Britain during the 12 months to the end of June 2022.

Another 180 suffered minor injuries.

Eleven e-scooter users were killed in accidents during the same period.

Private e-scooters are not legal to be used on roads or sidewalks in the UK, but have become a common sight.

E-scooter rental trials on roads in dozens of towns and cities across England have been extended until May 2024.

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