E-scooters’ UK speed limit ‘shocks’ blindness charity

E-scooters’ UK speed limit ‘shocks’ blindness charity

A commuter on an electric scooter wears his mask in Los Angeles on June 29, 2020

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AFP

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Electric scooters are a common sight in cities like Los Angeles – but are illegal in the UK until the weekend

The UK’s blindness charity says e-scooters remain a “real threat” before they are legalized.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) said that the government’s security checks, announced this week, failed to allay its fears.

Other witnesses in a parliamentary hearing of the Transportation Committee said that the maximum speed and weight of electric scooters were higher than they should have been.

On Saturday it will become legal to drive e-scooters on the roads of Britain.

The change, which results from pressure on the public transport system from social distance requirements, only applies to rentals. Private scooters will remain illegal.

Earlier this week, the government revealed that the speed limit would have been 15.5 km / h (25 km / h) and that users would need a driving license to participate.

Eleanor Southwood, president of the board of directors of RNIB, said to the committee: “It is really clear that even with all the guarantees … we consider e-scooters a real threat to the ability of blind and partially sighted people to move in independently and safely. “

She said the RNIB was “really surprised to see yesterday’s 15-mile speed limit, which is much faster than we expected.”

  • When can I ride an e-scooter legally?
  • Because some fear of changing the laws on e-scooters

Electric scooters are much quieter than cars, he said. And he added that evidence that pedal bikes are used on sidewalks suggests that “without a robust application”, e-scooters would likely be used on pedestrian walkways.

Even unanchored electric scooters left on the road could pose a danger to travel.

“We hoped that the speeds were limited, ideally as close to walking as possible, but otherwise, at an absolute maximum of 12.5 mph,” said Southwood.

“So we’re really shocked by the speed limit.”

Weight, speed, power

Philip Darnton, director of the Bicycle Association, told politicians that his group did not have a precise view of electric scooters because some of its members were fiercely against them while others were selling them.

But he said that the power and weight granted by the government has gone far beyond expectations.

“The power was once again very surprising – 500 watts,” he said, referring to the engine.

“Most scooters in the world and all the most famous brands have a rating of up to 250 watts. 500 watts will give you terrific acceleration, much, much faster than any cyclist or e-bike – which is also rated at 250 watts – could possibly do. “

That acceleration increased the risk for cyclists, he said.

He added that the Bicycle Association recommended a maximum weight of 20 kg (44lb). But the government had approved more than double – 55 kg – to accommodate larger batteries and reduce the cost of constant recharging by the commercial operator.

“The combination of speed, power and weight has to be considered,” he warned.

Rachel Lee, of the Living Streets walking group, said she was concerned about speed – and also about the people who use them while they are drunk.

But the biggest problem was that “our infrastructure is currently not up to the job,” he said – indicating the lack of separate bike lanes as an example.

“At the moment I’m only afraid that the people who use them for the first time, get scared on our busy streets and then jump on the sidewalk – and then before you know someone who is vulnerable, old, maybe can’t see – or even the children – they are overthrown. “

Two academics, however, spoke of the potential positive impact that e-scooters could have.

“I can see the benefits in terms of the environment, health and social inclusion,” said Graeme Sherriff of the University of Salford.

“It depends on the rest of the system in a way, but it could really encourage people away from cars.”

Jillian Anable, a transport expert from the University of Leeds, echoed the positive feelings.

“If we can’t do some bold things now, then when can we do them, compared to the transportation sector?” she said.

He also questioned the need for users to have a driving license.

“His biggest credit is for those who don’t have a driver’s license and don’t aspire to have one,” he said.

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