Sight Loss Councils, which advocate for blind and partially sighted people across the UK, have slammed a report on e-scooters, just published by the House of Commons Transport Select Committee.

Mike Bell, External Affairs Manager from Sight Loss Councils said: “The trials operating around the country are already revealing problems with e-scooter use including a negative impact on pedestrian safety and street clutter. Trials have been suspended in Coventry due to safety concerns and a pedestrian injured in Birmingham.

“We are shocked the Committee is calling for the legalisation of all e-scooters, including in private ownership, and the removal of the requirement for a driving licence.  Now is absolutely not the time for further relaxation, as advocated by the committee. The e-scooter trials running in various locations across the country must be fully reviewed and evaluated before any changes are made.

“We obviously welcome that the report reflects some of the concerns of blind and partially sighted people but we simply do not know at this point whether any mitigations or new enforcement measures will be effective. Without effective controls and legislation, the legalisation of e-scooters poses major safety concerns for blind and partially sighted people.

E-scooters are extremely difficult for blind and partially sighted people to see. They operate quietly which makes them difficult to hear. And it may not always be obvious to someone driving an e-scooter that they are approaching a pedestrian with visual impairment. This makes interactions between the two potentially dangerous. The Department for Transport has approved specifications for e-scooters which are faster, heavier and have greater acceleration than in other European countries.

E-scooters are currently illegal in the UK, except if rented from an e-scooter operator. The government announced in July that local councils could run trials for e-scooter rental in some parts of England, Scotland and Wales.  In response to this Thomas Pocklington Trust, in partnership with other sight loss sector organisations, put together guidance for both local authorities considering running a trial and e-scooter operators.

The latest House of Commons Transport Select Committee report recommends the legalisation of e-scooters, including for private ownership and use, and removing the need for users to have a driving licence.  Read the full report from the House of Commons Transport Committee here

Sight Loss Councils, funded by Thomas Pocklington Trust, and led by blind and partially sighted people, work closely with businesses, charities, transport hubs, local politicians and other service providers to improve access to services for visually impaired people at a local and national level.

Sight Loss Councils have worked with e-scooter operator Tier, which has committed to adding Acoustic Vehicle Alert systems (AVAS) to its vehicles. You can read more about this here.