That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Road Traffic Act 1961 in order to regulate for the use of electric scooters and to provide for their safe use on Irish roads and streets; to expand the legal definition of bicycle to include electrically assisted bicycles and to permit their use on Irish roads.
This Bill would set legal parameters for the safe use of electric scooters, which are an increasingly popular mode of transport around Dublin city. Currently, it is effectively illegal to use electric scooters on Irish roads and such vehicles are liable for seizure by gardaí. Furthermore, there is a requirement that these vehicles be taxed and insured as mechanically propelled vehicles, which is an onerous and expensive requirement. This Bill removes the requirement for electric scooters and electric bicycles to be taxed and insured by altering the definition of mechanically propelled vehicles.
The Bill permits the use of electric scooters on Irish roads but also lays down a number of fundamental safety requirements. First, the Bill sets a maximum speed of 25 km/h for electric scooters and requires all electric scooters to be fitted with a speed limitation device designed to prevent the vehicle from exceeding the limit. This speed limit is similar to those laid down in other European countries that have successfully regulated for the use of scooters. The Bill also makes it an offence to ride an electric scooter without due consideration for the safety of others, which is an offence for bicycle users, so the regulations are very similar. This places a requirement on all users to drive in a manner that is safe and respectful of all other road users. Electric scooters users would also be required to wear helmets at all times on public thoroughfares.
The Bill will amend the Road Safety Authority Act 2006 to expand the remit of the Road Safety Authority to make recommendations regarding the safe use of electric scooters. Furthermore, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport would be empowered by the Bill to make any necessary regulations regarding electric scooters. This would enable the Minister to draw up safety guidelines and laws relating to scooters as new research emerges. We have seen the increasing use of scooters and it is incumbent upon us as legislators to provide a statutory footing where they can be used safely and successfully. I commend the Bill to the House and hope all Members will be in a position to support it.