North Yorkshire SLC attend TIER’s acoustic alert pilot in York
York blind and partially sighted residents joined North Yorkshire Sight Loss Council last week at TIER’s universal acoustic vehicle alert system (AVAS) pilot for its shared e-scooters. This is the first time the alert has been used in a pilot outside of London.
Sight Loss Councils (SLC) have played a key role in the call for the introduction of the sound, and have been integral to its development and testing over the past three years. This forms part of SLCs’ national work to make our streets safer for blind and partially sighted people.
TIER has funded the development of the sound, which has been developed with Anderson Acoustics, at Pearl UCL. TIER explains how rigorous indoor and outdoor trials took place over 18 months to achieve a balance of ensuring safety, whilst avoiding unnecessary excessive noise, including feedback from neurodiverse volunteers.
The alert aims to give vulnerable road users an improved amount of information about the e-scooters position, speed, and direction. This is to increase street safety.
The e-scooters using the sound have also been fitted with TIER’s updated ‘Parrot’ computing module. This enables the e-scooter to adjust the pitch and volume of the sound as the e-scooter’s speed increases or decreases.
Volunteers from SLCs across the UK, all with lived experience of sight loss, have provided valuable feedback at every stage of testing the alert.
Josie Clark, North Yorkshire SLC member, talking to Jessica Hall, Head of Public Policy, UK, TIER, during the pilot
Feedback from the pilot
Iain Mitchell, Senior Engagement Manager for Sight Loss Councils, said:
“North Yorkshire Sight Loss Council is delighted to welcome the AVAS pilot to York. We want to thank TIER for their commitment to deliver a product that can now be heard on our streets.
“We are grateful that TIER took our initial request three years ago seriously. Through collaboration, development, and testing, they have made our request a reality.
“Everyone who attended the launch welcomed the development of AVAS, and felt it has the potential to be a major step forward in making e-scooters more visible in and around York. However, the consensus from the launch is that the sound omitted needs to be louder – especially for those with hearing difficulties.
“This development in e-scooter safety is ground breaking. Sight Loss Councils across the country would like to see other operators adopt this technology using a universal shared alert to ensure the safety of blind and partially sighted pedestrians.”
SLC members were able to provide valuable feedback to Tier during the launch event.
Hilary Boon, North Yorkshire SLC member, said:
“I can see the benefits that having a sound on an e-scooter has for everyone in York, but especially those with sight loss. I welcome this initiative.”
Eleanor Tew, MySight York, said:
“The introduction of the AVAS is a great idea, but it needs to be louder as the sound could get lost in busy traffic.”
Hilary Boon, North Yorkshire SLC member, with Jessica Hall, Head of Policy UK, TIER, and Iain Mitchell, Senior Engagement Manager for North England
Both Verity Peat and Josie Clark, also volunteers of North Yorkshire SLC members, agreed with Eleanor, adding:
“The pilot is a great starting point in increasing the safety of blind and partially sighted pedestrians. This innovation is a positive step forward.”
Jessica Murphy, Head of Public Policy, UK, TIER, commented:
The e-scooter acoustic alert has been the product of nearly two years of development and real-world testing. We are thrilled to be able to bring this next phase of the trial to York and we really value any feedback our users are willing to share with us of their experience with the sound.
“Safety is our highest priority, and that extends to ensure vulnerable pedestrians and road users feel comfortable interacting with our service. AVAS is a major part in ensuring shared e-scooters do not negatively impact the daily lives and independence of blind and visually impaired people.”
TIER users can share their feedback via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or via a chat window in the Help and Safety section of the TIER app.
Read more about Sight Loss Councils involvement in development of acoustic alert
- Sight Loss Councils call for universal alert of e-scooters
- Sight Loss Councils attend UCL Pearl for sound-testing
- On-street testing of potential AVAS alerts
North Yorkshire SLC volunteers, with Jessica Murphy, Head of Public Policy, UK, TIER.
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Publication date: 27 November 2023