A local Dublin councillor said e-scooter users ‘frighten the living daylights out of me at times’ after some were spotted breaking traffic lights in Dublin last week.
Extra.ie counted the number of road users who broke the traffic lights at five points along a short stretch of the Grand Canal at lunch time earlier this month.
In just over one hour in an area between Mount Street Bridge, Leeson Street Lower and the edge of Stephens Green Park we counted five e-scooters which broke traffic lights.
It should be noted that we also counted six e-bikes and 26 cyclists breaking traffic lights during that period as well.
While cyclists breaking traffic lights has been a bone of contention for years, concern is growing about situations where e-scooter users aren’t obeying the rules of the road as the devices become more prevalent across the country.
The Department of Transport also recently told this site was unable to give a date as to when the legislation will be ready.
During the course of our time along the canal, we witnessed e-scooter riders using their devices on paths, in cycle lanes and on roads.
In some cases the scooter users broke traffic lights for cars, which would appear to be the lights users are required to follow as the e-scooters are classed as mechanically propelled devices under legislation for bigger vehicles like cars and motorbikes.
But those who were operating e-scooters in cycle lanes, which will likely become the area in which they are allowed to operate under impending legislation, also broke lights for cyclists along the canal — lights which may be applicable for e-scooter riders moving forward.
Dermot Lacey, Labour Dublin City Councillor for the Pembroke area, which encompasses the section of canal surveyed, has been an e-bike rider since 2000 and he said he supports the use of e-scooters, but they do pose safety concerns.
He said he would like to see requirements for all e-scooters to have bells, lights and mirrors, if possible, but users also need to be more conscious of those around them.
Speaking to Extra.ie he said: ‘I have had one or two encounters with e-scooters and I don’t want to be negative about them because I do actually favour trying out new forms of transport and I think e-scooters will be part of that.
‘But one of the dangers I see about them is they’re silent. I have got off my bike and suddenly an e-scooter has whizzed past me and if I had stepped out maybe six inches or more from my bike or if I had to lean over my bike to get off it, that scooter would have very easily hit me.’
He called for e-scooter riders and other road users to ‘behave with a degree of manners’ so heavy legislation isn’t needed to police scooter use.
‘I do see that racing through the light far too often, it really gets my goat,’ he added.
‘It’s dangerous and it doesn’t help for a degree of tolerance because people see that and think: “Jesus I just missed that person” when the car driver might not be in wrong.
‘I have seen some really dangerous practices on scooters of people scooting out into the middle of the road, not really looking.
‘You have to strike a balance in encouraging new, sustainable forms of transport, but also make sure that the transport is safe for the user and the other road users as well.
‘It’s not fair that a motorist behaves badly, but it’s equally not fair for someone on an e-scooter to behave badly.’
He went on to explain his shock at the actions of some users, commenting: ‘It frightens the living daylights out of me at times.
‘I’m surprised there hasn’t been any (major accidents) already. It seems to me that a scooterist is oblivious to what’s around them.
‘When you learn to drive, you’re taught to be conscious of the traffic around you and I’m not too sure that people on scooters are very conscious of that world around them and I think they need to be more so.
‘I don’t want to make it harder for people to use e-scooters and e-bikes, I just want to see people being kind.
‘A really dangerous thing I seen the other day happened to be on Thomas Street — A guy shot out from the shops just after St Catherine’s Church, shot right across the road, onto the footpath and down Bridgefoot Street.
‘He was very lucky, motorists were very lucky and pedestrians were very lucky that he just didn’t hit anybody.
‘One person, one footstep different from where they were at and they would have been hit. That’s not trying to stop somebody, that’s trying to get people to realise that if you’re going to go on this scooter, which is great, just look around you, have a bit more concern.’
In drafting new legislation for the use of e-scooters in Ireland cllr Lacey suggested that the Department of transport base their rules off the experience of road users including e-scooter riders.
Extra.ie contacted the Road Safety Authority regarding concerns about e-scooter users adherence to traffic lights and it said: ‘Devices such as electric scooters or e-scooters, are classified as mechanically propelled vehicles.
‘Currently in Ireland, because electric scooters are considered to be mechanically propelled vehicles, they are subject to road traffic legislation, therefore require registration, motor tax, a driving licence and insurance when used on a public road.
‘As these devices fail to meet the criteria for vehicle registration, that is minimum required safety standards, they are not permitted for use on public roads in Ireland. If they are used on a pubic road the operator can be subject to enforcement action by An Garda Siochana.’
An Garda Siochana were also asked for comment on the use of e-scooters of paths and cycle lanes as part of the dive into e-scooter users breaking lights in Dublin, but a reply was not available at the time of publishing.