York’s new e-scooters are to be fitted with artificial noises to reduce the chance of pedestrians being hit by the near-silent machines.
The scooters are ‘silent, heavy and fast’ and pose a real risk to blind and partially sighted people, according to charity the Thomas Pocklington Trust.
So the trust is working with the company behind them, Tier, to ensure everyone can hear the scooters coming.
They are planning to add sounds to the vehicles, which can travel up to a maximum speed of 12.5mph.
The trust, a national charity supporting blind and partially sighted people of all ages, is now going to support research to find the best sound to be installed – including, potentially, an engine noise.
Tier e-scooters are already fitted with a warning bell.
A ‘real danger’
Charles Colquhoun, CEO at Thomas Pocklington Trust, said: “We’re delighted Tier has engaged with us through the Sight Loss Councils and now has a deeper understanding and empathy of the concerns of blind and partially sighted people around e-scooters.
“By introducing the audio alert systems Tier is directly responding to the concerns that the introduction of silent, heavy and fast e-scooters represents a real danger to blind and partially sighted people.
“It has also agreed to incorporate advice and guidance to promote vision awareness for e-scooter riders within its induction information for each e-scooter hire.
“We understand the benefits of e-scooters as an environmentally friendly transport option, particularly for cities, but these must be safe so that our streets are accessible for all.”
Sight Loss Councils, funded by the trust and led by blind and partially sighted members, will be performing research and running focus groups across the UK to shape how the e-scooters should sound, when and where the sound should be used, and how visually impaired people can be educated on the feature.
Tier’s UK general manager Fred Jones said: “E-scooters offer lots of benefits to UK cities, but they must be introduced in a considered way, working in harmony with local communities and accounting for the concerns of people with visual impairment.”
The plan is to roll out sound alerts to the scooters next year.