Business

Monday 24 June 2019

WATCH: TD Noel Rock to propose new legislation for electric scooters

Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

A Dublin TD who bought an electric scooter to zip in and out of the Dail says that it’s time to liberalise the law around them.

Fine Gael’s Noel Rock, who travels in to Leinster House on the scooter from his Santry home five miles away, says that there are over 1,000 electric scooters on city roads.

But Irish law suggests that such rechargeable scooters are no different from motorbikes, requiring tax, insurance and a licence.

Rock says that it’s time to treat the devices, which travel at speeds of up to 25kph, more like bicycles.

“The law in Ireland, as it stands, is out of date when it comes to these vehicles,” he said.

“In most European countries, these vehicles are treated the same as electric assisted bicycles. In Ireland, however, they exist in something of a grey area and their legal status is very much open to interpretation as to whether or not it is a mechanically propelled vehicle. Given the vehicle needs a manual ‘kickstart’ intervention and reach a minimum speed of 5km/h manually to start operation, it is different from a purely mechanical vehicle. Accordingly, this needs to be amended and clarified.”

Rock’s comments come after the mobile operator Three started selling Xiaomi’s Mi electric scooter for €450. The scooter, which needs to be kickstarted to work, can travel at speeds of up to 25kph and a single charge will last between 15km and 20km.

A spokeswoman for the Road Safety Authority told Independent.ie that scooters such as the Xiaomi model, even though they require a manual start like an electric bicycle, still need to be taxed and insured under existing Irish law.

“As it is classed as the Mechanically propelled Vehicle, under current legislation it falls within the scope of the law,” she said.

But Rock said that more people are turning to the devices as an antidote to gridlocked traffic.

“In most European countries, forward thinking policy makers recognise that these environmentally friendly, low powered, electric vehicles are part of a sustainable transport mix,” he said. “In Ireland, they are growing in popularity with over 1,000 on our roads. It’s time to act now on this matter and legislate.”

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