Electric scooters also known as e-scooters are electrically powered scooters. They feature two wheels and an electric motor that does not require human input when it kicks in. However, the market features a few versions with three wheels. These e-scooters need perioding plug-in charging to function. It is also worth mentioning that the devices are set up for riders to stand while riding them. This means that they do not have seats. However, they have a handle that provides support. Different states and nations have varying regulations for e-scooters. On the other hand, some countries do not have specific laws and regulations regarding these devices. The issues of e-scooter legalities in Ireland are worth talking about.
Electric scooters in Ireland
As is the case with most parts of the world, electric scooters have recently become quite popular for home use in Ireland especially in Dublin. Their trendy design and chill nature have driven a lot of people to acquire the devices. However, the laws and regulations on e-scooters in Ireland are pretty challenging.
In Ireland, e-scooters are categorized as mechanically propelled vehicles. Therefore, the government expects owners and riders to abide by the regulations set for all mechanically driven vehicles. Vehicles in this category do not need any human assistance to function. Therefore, electric scooters are added to this category because of their electric motor that does not require any human effort. However, it is wrong to classify e-scooters in this category because their functionality is not entirely independent of human action.
What makes e-scooters different from other mechanically propelled vehicles?
When using e-scooters, ridders have to initiate the device by giving themselves two big pushes. The rider must also get up to about four miles per hour to activate the motor. This means that the motor cannot start without the above human effort. However, once the engine kicks in, the rest of the process does not require any more effort. For this reason, a lot of people argue that e-scooters should be removed from this category.
Since e-scooters are in the mechanically driven vehicle category, Ireland law demands that owners get their scooters registered, licensed, and taxed. To achieve this, the owners need to present an EC Certificate of Conformity from the manufacturers. Since e-scooter manufacturers do not place their products in the same category as other mechanically propelled vehicles, they do not offer this document. This makes it impossible to register and license the scooters. Therefore, drivers cannot legally use these scooters on public roads or highways. Additionally, riders need a drivers license to operate the electric scooters on public roads and streets.
Categorizing e-scooters as mechanically propelled cars also makes it illegal for ridders to use them on bike lanes.
Are they legal in Ireland?
Currently, electric scooters are not legal for use on public highways and roads. The main reason is the lack of specific legislation governing the use, speed limits, and safety protocols for ridding e-scooters on public roads or highways.
The changing laws in Ireland
In the past few years, certain bodies in the Ireland government have been working towards legalizing e-scooters. In 2019, the Ireland Road Safety Authority held a consultation where they made significant recommendations on different safeguards for e-scooters. The Road Safety Authority recommended rider training, mandating helmets, and e-scooter-specific licensing as some of the regulations that would make a significant part of e-scooter legislation. The organization also urged the allocation of specific public road sections for e-scooter riding instead of granting riders access to all roads.
In addition to the Ireland Road Safety Authorities, other parties like the press have also made valuable recommendations over the years. While the government seemed to be quiet about these recommendations and the need for e-scooter regulations, finally, in 2021, they are taking active steps.
At the beginning of 2021, the Minister of Transport in Ireland, Eamon Ryan, announced that the government had approved plans to draw new legislation for e-scooters and other novel transportation models, like e-bikes. The legislation will include adding a new vehicle category that will eliminate e-scooters from the mechanically driven vehicle category.
E-scooters as Powered Personal Transporters
In the proposed bill, e-scooters will be categorized as Powered Personal Transporter and will not require any tax, insurance, or driving license. They will also include distinctions between all types of novel transportation models, including e-scooters.
What does the transportation ministry seek to gain from the proposed bill?
The legislation’s primary goal is to legalize the use of e-scooters on public roads and introduce safety standards that they must meet before they are allowed on the roads. The legislation will be outlined in the imminent Road Traffic Bill in the miscellaneous provisions section. According to the Minister of Transport, the increasing popularity of e-scooters in Ireland and other parts of the world is the reason for the plan’s approval. It is also safe to say that the fact that other European countries, like France, have set up specific regulations for e-scooters has also pushed the Ireland government to make this move.
When will these changes come into effect?
It remains unclear as to the exact date when the new legislation will come into effect. According to Eamon Ryan, the necessary authorities are yet to draw up the specifics of the legislation, including details like speed limits. Therefore, the laws will only come into effect once the bill has been drawn up and approved. Consequently, it may take a while before the legislations come into effect. However, this recent move by the government is relatively promising.
The popularity of e-scooters can be attributed to the fact that they are highly convenient, faster than walking, and can escape traffic. They also do not have to wait at bus stops or pick up passengers. The new legislation on s-scooters in Ireland will boost the e-scooter market and increase their popularity in Ireland. Like Ireland, several countries are also actively looking into their regulations for e-scooters and other novel transportation models.