Greater Manchester Sight Loss Council: “Our approach to e-scooter trials is proactive and solutions focused”
The introduction of e-scooter trials has raised concerns amongst visually impaired pedestrians – namely, that e-scooters are too fast and operate almost silently.
Lime has responded to the concerns of blind and partially sighted people by developing new safety messaging for riders and committing to exploring options for an acoustic vehicle alert system.
On 22 September, Greater Manchester Sight Loss Council and e-scooter operator Lime invited blind and partially sighted Greater Manchester residents to a Meet the e-scooter drop-in event.
The event gave visually impaired people and the wider public the opportunity to get up and close to exploring what an e-scooter looks and feels like. It was also an opportunity to learn more about the safety features installed on Lime e-scooters operating in the city and how to report an issue should you encounter one.
Pete Forrester, Greater Manchester Sight Loss Council Member felt reassured following the event; he said:
“Lime’s vehicles are already highly regulated. It’s encouraging that they want to further improve their safety by fitting them with an audible warning device. I believe the Lime e-scooters will pose far less of a threat to pedestrians than the privately-owned ones. I found it assuring that the core message to be given to all e-scooter riders will be that they are responsible for ensuring the safety of others – rather like the responsibility taken by the driver of a motor vehicle.”
The event facilitated mutual learning; blind and partially sighted attendees were able to ask questions, raise their concerns and provide feedback directly to Lime.
Lime’s Public Affairs Manager for UK and Ireland, Hal Stevenson, said:
“Lime is committed to working with Sight Loss Councils to design micro-mobility services that work for everyone. This recent event allowed us to further understand some of the issues that can be created by shared vehicles schemes for blind and low vision pedestrians, and we are taking concrete steps – including piloting physical parking racks – to address these. We continue to welcome Sight Loss Councils’ constructive approach and look forward to holding similar events across all of our service areas.”
The event garnered attention from the media and was featured on BBC NorthWest tonight’s report on e-scooters and their impact on blind and partially sighted people.
Sight Loss Councils are keen to reaffirm Sight Loss Councils proactive, solutions-focused approach to tackling the issue of e-scooter safety. Engagement manager Matt Cliff said:
“Sight loss councils’ approach to e-scooter trials is proactive and solutions focused. There is no escaping that there are safety issues for blind and partially sighted people regarding e-scooters on our streets. This is why e-scooters have been a key part of our #StreetsForAll campaign. One of our key asks that we will not compromise on is our desire to introduce a continuous audible alert to be added to e-scooters that currently move at high speeds silently. We are very pleased to learn that Lime’s latest model, although not live in the UK at this stage, now has onboard infrastructure that will allow for this to be explored. It is also very positive that the lived experience of Sight Loss Councils will be sought when such alerts are ready to pilot. Greater Manchester SLC hopes that this ongoing work with Lime will shape future legislation for e-scooters both as part of rental schemes such as those in Salford and Rochdale and also for privately owned e-scooters.”
Sight Loss Councils’ #StreetsForAll campaign is calling for a change in government guidance to include:
• Mandatory on-road parking bays for e-scooters
• A reduction to the 15.5mph speed limit
• The installation of sound-emitting devices
• Geotagging to prevent pavement use