Dublin City Council’s E-Scooter Questionnaire
Recently Dublin City Council issued a questionnaire to electric scooter ride sharing companies seeking information on their experience in rolling out electric scooter fleets in cities around the world. Electric scooter ride sharing schemes are going through the process of being considered for trials in Irish cities and pressure is increasing to have electric scooters legalised due to their increasing popularity with the public. Dublin City Council will tender the ride sharing schemes to a select group of companies looking to roll out e-scooter fleets. The questionnaire looks to draw on best practices and learnings from e-scooter ride sharing schemes around the world. This is likely to feed into the specification for the ride sharing scheme tender. Let's have a look at some of the key points of the questionnaire:
Electric Scooter Safety:
Given that there has never been an electric scooter ride sharing scheme in Ireland, how to safely implement them into our cities and towns is at the centre of council discussions. The first two questions in the survey ask for information on electric scooter’s safety features and driver safety.
Up to this point we are aware that government officials have discussed what motor power, speed limits, size of wheels and speed limitation devices an electric scooter should have (check out our article on this here). The questionnaire goes into further detail on the technological features an electric scooter should have in a ride sharing scheme;
- Capacity to restrict use in designated areas
- Capacity for driver alerts
- Topple detection
- E-Scooter self-diagnostics
- Ability to restrict e-scooter journeys through pedestrianised zones
A lot of the issues caused by electric scooter ride sharing schemes comes down to the speed the e-scooters are able to go in pedestrianised areas, and where the electric scooters are left after a user has finished with their session. To combat this, electric scooter ride sharing companies use technology that allows them to be restricted to certain routes, have topple detection, driver alerts and e-scooter self diagnostics. These features are essential for management and planning of electric scooter schemes as e-scooter routes can be mapped out and agreed upon before a launch of a scheme. They also provide data on the condition of the electric scooters and when they need to be serviced. Being able to demonstrate the benefits of this technology to Dublin City Council will likely be a key part in winning the shared scheme tenders.
Driver Safety Features:
Driving electric scooters is a novel experience for many. Due to electric scooters not being legalised for use in public places, users have to self-educate themselves on how to operate them safely in public. An e-scooter educational campaign will allow for e-scooter drivers to be adequately trained, and inform the rest of the public on how to behave around them.
The questionnaire seeks information on:
- Approach to driver education
- Approach to driver recruitment
- Erratic driver detection
- Provision of helmets and hi-viz
- Incentive to wear a helmet and hi-viz
- Rescinding of e-scooter membership policy
- Good driver awards scheme or driver penalty points
As with riding a bike in public, wearing a helmet and PPE is essential for the safe use of electric scooters in public. Electric scooters will likely be restricted to 20km/h (with further restrictions in heavily pedestrianised areas) which is roughly the same speed as a bike travelling through the city. Crashes or collisions can be prevented with PPE and good driver behaviour.
Irresponsible parking is an issue with electric scooters observed in certain cities around the world. Where there is no geofencing technology (firmware on the electric scooter that restricts where e-scooters can go) on a shared scheme electric scooter they can be parked at any location. This can mean they are left on the streets in front of peoples’ homes, bike paths, shop doorways etc. This can lead to people having to walk around them or worse trip or fall over them (check out this article on what Australians think of e-scooters). The following paragraph from the questionnaire points to designated parking zones for electric scooters and restrictions on parking them at pedestrianised areas and paths.
“The City Council will want to minimise irresponsible parking, which creates a danger for other road/street users and adds to the sense of clutter, especially on streets in the core city centre area. It is likely that on-pavement parking will not be permitted on any public pavements or pedestrianised zones within Dublin City Council’s administrative area. In the core city centre area, e-scooter parking will probably be restricted to defined e-scooter parking bays and potentially defined areas within agreed car parks. E-scooters will also need to have the ability to be locked to fixed structures.”
Careful planning of e-scooter parking bays will allow for a consistency in where e-scooters are being parked rather than having them left as clutter in the streets.
Permanent staff vs gig economy
The rest of the questions in the e-scooter survey are geared towards the operational activities of the electric scooter ride sharing schemes. An interesting point is whether electric scooter ride sharing schemes will use permanent staff or rely on the gig economy. The gig economy is where the members of the public can sign up to carry out work on a contract basis. This is popular in America where e-scooter batteries are charged by members of the public on their property. Well established e-scooter businesses like Lime charge their electric scooter fleets in this way.
Using permanent staff, on the other hand, has the benefit of closer control over operations of the launch of e-scooters schemes. It’s hard to see a ride sharing scheme launching in Ireland initially with the reliance on a gig economy as the government would want a consistently high standard of operations from the ride sharing companies which would be difficult if labour was outsourced to the gig economy.
It’s exciting times whether you're an electric scooter owner or interested in the ride sharing market. The discussions that are being held and the draft bills being discussed with the government are pointing towards the legalisation of electric scooters in the near future. The successful deployment of an e-scooter ride sharing scheme will hinge on having robust safety requirements for e-scooters and users, and educating the public on how to behave around them.
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