'Ludicrous' electric scooter law needs to be changed, says TD
The law penalising electric scooters, bikes and skateboards in Irish cities needs to be changed, according to a Government TD.
At present, using one can result in fines, penalty points or prison as such devices, classed in Ireland as "mechanically propelled vehicles", are illegal to use unless the owner has a driver's licence and insurance.
Gardaí have begun confiscating the machines, which are being used on footpaths and roads, and have warned they are currently regarded in the same vein as motorbikes.
But Dublin North-West TD Noel Rock said the scooters were needed to help ease traffic congestion.
"Classifying them in the same way as a car or motorbike is, quite simply, ludicrous. We should be regulating them in the same way as electric-assisted bicycles, and bicycles generally," he said.
Thousands of electric scooters and bikes can be seen every morning in Dublin city as an alternative to bicycles or gridlocked public transport.
Workers in companies such as Google and Facebook use them to travel across the city, where there are limited public transport options.
Electric scooters cost from €400. Typically taking around three hours to charge, they can generally travel at around 30km per hour for a range of between 10km and 20km per charge. They weigh between 10kg and 20kg and workers like them as they can be easily stored in offices.
"In most other European countries, electric scooters are regulated for," said Mr Rock. "In Ireland, they currently fall between several regulatory stools. It's clear that these silent, non-polluting vehicles have great potential to get people out of their cars."
US cities are seeing a boom in the scooters as companies rush to fund short-term rental of them. One such start-up, Lime, has just raised €258m in funding to grow its public network of city scooters. Google is one of the companies backing the idea in the hope it could lead to more effective transportation options for cities.
However, the surge in popularity of the scooters has resulted in criticism of users taking over footpaths.
A Garda spokesman said scooters would continue to be confiscated unless properly licensed.