Electric Scooter Law In Ireland - 2022 Update
It's time for a 2022 update on electric scooter laws in Ireland! You're not alone if you feel this topic has been going around in circles for the past few years. The current e-scooter bill has passed the second stage of debates in the Oireachtas. The public envisaged that legislation would be in place for Summer 2022. However, as of April 2022, the government announced it would be 2023 before legislation is approved.
We have written previously on the history of electric scooter legislation and how and when it might be introduced in Ireland. Electric scooters are currently not legislated for use under the Road And Traffic Act (you can check out our previous articles on this topic). However, there has been a lot of progress over the last few months, with Deputy Eamon Ryan keen to continue the trend of reducing the number of vehicles on the roads with alternative methods of transport such as bikes and e-scooters. On the 30th of June 2021, the Joint Committee on Transport and Communications held a debate on the "General Scheme of the Road Traffic (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2019: Minister for Transport". The bill includes a broad range of proposed legislative amendments for the transport sector, with electric scooters being mentioned over 30 times throughout the debate. We will look here at what the discussion said about electric scooters.
The legal definition of electric scooters and what transport category they fall into has been iterated many times over the past year. At first, it was Personal Electric Vehicles (PEV). Secondly, Personal Light Weight Vehicles (PLEV) currently stand as Powered Personal Transporters (PPT). PPT is a new class of vehicles that captures e-scooters, hoverboards, Segway's and other vehicles outside the current legislative classification for roadworthy vehicles. This new category has been proposed, rather than explicitly calling it "e-scooter legislation", to have a class that captures the progress of technology in transportation devices over the coming years. Imagine what an electric scooter will be in 20 years; whatever it's classified as, the legislation won't have to be changed to regulate them. The naming of PPT may vary depending on how this bill progresses, but the idea of future-proofing the legislation with a "catch-all" category will likely remain a vital part of the bill.
No license or insurance
PPTs will not be licensed vehicles. E-scooters will operate closer to the rules that cyclists currently have. Persons over the age of 16 will be allowed to use PPTs in public places. The legislation will restrict speed limits to around the 20-25km mark and with restrictions on motor wattage output. The legislation will lower speed limits in pedestrianised areas to allow safe use around pedestrians. As e-scooters are not licensed vehicles, helmets will be optional. This wording is more directed toward public ride-sharing e-scooters which will likely launch after the changes to legislation. At LOCO, we promote helmets and other PPE when using an electric scooter. You only get one head so protect it!
Over the past year, most media attention has acknowledged the growing popularity of electric scooters but has put a negative spin on their use in public. In contrast to the media, the debate had a positive outlook on electric scooters, and discussions centred around the health and societal benefits. The Deputy of Transport Mr Eamonn Ryan notes that any form of transport that reduces the amount of congestion in our cities and gets people physically active in their commutes is a massive benefit to society. He says that rather than putting strict mandates on the use of electric scooters, the focus should be on making roads safer and encouraging, supporting, and incentivising helmets, but not making them mandatory. There may be conflicting opinions on the compulsory use of helmets, but looking to make roads less about cars and more friendly to cyclists and e-scooter users is a progressive initiative we can stand behind.
Timelines for the introduction of legislation
Mr Ryan submitted the bill to the Oireachtas in November 2021. Since then, it has passed the first two rounds of debate. It's in the third stage out of eleven and where it's examined section by section.
Although we have seen many bills proposed over the past two years, this is the first time a bill has a timeline to be brought forward to the Oireachtas by a minister for transport. These are exciting developments, and we look forward to seeing how this progresses in the coming months.
The community was pushing for legislation to be put in place for Summer 2022. In April 2022, this took a blow, with the government saying that it wouldn't be legalising electric scooters until 2023.
We are taking steps towards legalising electric scooters on our roads in Ireland. There are thousands of commuters who depend on electric scooters as their primary form of transport. We have heard countless stories about how e-scooters have helped people drastically cut down their commute times. Many people can't rely on the current public transport system as it may not operate around their work hours and they have to use an electric scooter. Others have bus routes that bring them unnecessarily through the city and add considerable time to their commute, rather than being able to cut across town on their e-scooters. The legislation will mean that these benefits will continue with the government's added infrastructure, education, and funding for electric scooters.
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