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How we're working to help make e-scooter hire schemes safer for blind and partially sighted people

We have started to work with one of the leading European e-scooter operators, Voi Technology, who approached us as they wanted to better understand the needs of blind and partially sighted pedestrians.

This is part of our broader campaigning work on the use of e-scooters on our roads. We have already worked with other sight loss charities to develop advice for e-scooter operators on how to make e-scooter hire schemes safer for blind and partially sighted people. We are building on this advice with Voi so that they can better understand our concerns and take forward our recommendations – looking at key elements, such as parking, rider education and training, e-scooter sound alerts, and ensuring e-scooters are kept off pavements and pedestrianised areas.

E-scooters can be difficult for blind and partially sighted people to see, and, despite having a bell that riders can use to make their presence noticed, they operate quietly which also makes them difficult to hear. It may not always be obvious to someone riding an e-scooter that they are approaching a pedestrian with sight loss. The difficulties these two groups have in detecting one another means interactions between them are potentially dangerous and require further attention.

E-scooter hire schemes are currently being trialled across the UK. Evaluation of the schemes will take place later this year. The Government is then expected to decide if and how to legalise e-scooters for use in public spaces.

We are working with the Government to make sure the evaluation of these schemes looks at the impact on blind and partially sighted people. We are also engaging at a local level with individual schemes to make sure the right safety measures are put in place and that local evaluations reflect the impact of e-scooters on blind and partially sighted people.

We are now working directly with Voi to use our expertise on making e-scooters as safe as possible within the ways of working of the e-scooter operator, but also through rider education, which will be key to ensure the safety of all road users and pedestrians. We are delighted to see that Voi is taking the first steps to implement our recommendations, and we will provide an update on our collaboration in the near future.

It is our view that working with the industry will help make sure that the right safety features are built into the operation of the e-scooter hire schemes.

We will continue to challenge this new and emerging industry where we don’t think it  has done enough, while also campaigning for all the safety concerns we have identified to be addressed and mitigated before e-scooters are legalised for use.