SLCs inform universal acoustic vehicle alert testing
Sight Loss Councils (SLC) have informed the latest phase of testing to find a universal acoustic vehicle alert (AVA) for shared e-scooters.
SLCs took part in on-street testing of the AVA for rental e-scooters which will alert pedestrians of their approach. This forms part of our national work to make our streets safer for blind and partially sighted people.
The acoustic alert research is being conducted by Anderson Acoustics, together with London’s other e-scooter operators, TIER, Lime, and Dott. This on-street phase follows extended experiments at UCL’s specialist Person-Environment-Activity Research Laboratory (PEARL).
The on-street testing is the first time the acoustic alerts have been heard in public. Researchers wanted to assess how pedestrians would react to the different sounds being tested. The aim of the AVA is to improve safety across the e-scooter industry. This will help road users, particularly blind and partially sighted people, to identify when a shared e-scooter is being ridden in their vicinity, regardless of its operator or make.
Last year, SLC members visited UCL PEARL’s research facility where they were able to provide important feedback at the development stage.
SLC members, Jonathan and Harry, with staff from Anderson Acoustics
Feedback from the testing
Harry Meade, South West London SLC member, said:
“It’s really important for Sight Loss Councils’ to be involved in this kind of testing. This is because it means the input of people with lived experience of sight loss informs this work. Ultimately, we really want to contribute to the right kind of sound being utilised so that e-scooters can be as safe as possible for blind and partially sighted pedestrians.”
Iain Mitchell, Senior Engagement Manager for North England, said:
“We first approached TIER with our concerns over e-scooter safety three years ago. We proposed installing an AVA onto their e-scooters and they have always been supportive of the idea – although at that time none of us were quite sure how to achieve it.
“We were thrilled to experience the first on-road testing of the AVA in London. I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone at TIER and their partners, for their time and investment in creating an AVA for e-scooters. They are setting the standard for other micro-mobility providers to follow.
“Now the technology exists, we would like to see AVAs made a legal requirement for all operators and manufacturers of e-scooters.”
Lucy Williams, Senior Engagement Manager for South England, added:
“It was great to be involved in both days of the trials with London Sight Loss Council members. It is crucial for blind and partially sighted pedestrians to be involved in the ongoing testing of AVAs for e-scooters to ensure they can be heard at a safe distance.
“We’re looking forward to following the next steps of the development and hope audio alerts will be implemented on e-scooters as soon as possible to ensure the safety of our streets.”
Iain Mitchell, Senior Engagement Manager for the North, during the on-street testing of the acoustic alert
Helen Sharp, TfL’s e-scooter trial lead, said:
“Our trial is the only legal way to ride an e-scooter on public roads in London and we want it to work for everybody. The trial should take everyone’s accessibility needs into account, and this testing moves us closer to finding a solution that would make it easier for people to know that an e-scooter is near them, in particular people who are visually impaired. We will continue to engage with people with accessibility needs and keep safety our number one priority”.
Fred Jones, Regional General Manager, Northern Europe, TIER commented:
“It has been a real privilege to have been involved in this pioneering safety work. The depth and quality of research undertaken so far by the team at UCL and Anderson Acoustics is truly staggering, and it is great that testing is now moving into the real world. We are proud that this industry-leading work is taking place in the UK, with the technology ultimately being offered around the world.
“At the heart of this collaborative project is our desire to ensure micro-mobility is as safe as possible, both for users and the wider public. We take the responsibility of introducing a new form of transport to our streets seriously and this is part of our broader push to make our cities safer, cleaner and better places to live.”
We look forward to continuing our work with Tier Mobility and UCL Pearl at further trials due to take place this summer.
Campaigns Manager for TPT, Andrew Law, pictured during the on-street testing in a ‘busy’ location
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Publication date: 04 May 2023