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  • Southside

Minister accused of dithering on e-scooters issue

Wednesday, 25th September, 2019 8:00am
Minister accused of dithering on e-scooters issue

The public has been urged to have their say on e-scooters. FILE PIC

Minister accused of dithering on e-scooters issue

The public has been urged to have their say on e-scooters. FILE PIC

A SOUTHSIDE TD has called for Southsiders to participate in a public consultation process that is now open on e-scooters, as he accused Minister Shane Ross of “dithering” on the issue.

Fianna Fáil TD John Curran said a legal loophole that currently exists around these increasingly popular devices has left hard-pressed commuters looking for alternatives to the private car in confusion.

According to Deputy Curran, e-scooters, or electric scooters, are considered to be mechanically propelled vehicles, therefore users must have insurance, road tax and a driving licence.

There are penalties under road traffic laws (including fixed charge notices, penalty points, fines and possible seizure of the vehicle) for not being in compliance with these requirements.

However, Deputy Curran said it is currently not possible to tax or insure e-scooters.

“This contradiction in the legislation is ridiculous and needs urgent attention from Government,” he said this week.

“These devices have been growing in popularity and, while some users have been stopped and had their scooters seized, they are being used very regularly.

“Minister Shane Ross’s reluctance to deal with this matter in a timely manner has resulted in this legal loophole hence, we are now playing catch up.

“Now, a two-month public consultation process that has been initiated by the Department of Transport may result in e-scooters being approved for use on Irish roads, or being prohibited.”

A report commissioned by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) has broadly supported legalising the use of e-scooters in the Republic, under some conditions and guidelines.

“I am encouraging the public to engage with this process and to participate and to have their voices heard on the issue of e-scooters,” Deputy Curran added.

“There is no doubt that these devices have the potential to make a very positive impact on transport in the city but we need a plan, despite the Minister’s dithering on the issue.”

Earlier this month Minister Ross warned retailers and suppliers of e-scooters and other Powered Personal Transporters (PPTs) that they should inform customers that such vehicles are not legal on public roads and thoroughfares.

Minister Ross said retailers were obliged if selling e-scooters or other PPTs, such as segways, hoverboards and other vehicles, to inform customers that they were only available to use legally on private property.

Minister Ross announced at the time that he was commencing a public consultation period to run until November 1 on foot of receiving the report commissioned by the RSA which broadly supports legalising the use of such vehicles on public roads.

But Minister Ross added that although a consultation period was underway, e-scooters and PPTs remained illegal if used on public roads.

Minister Ross said: “The use of these mechanically propelled vehicles is illegal on public road and in public places. Under Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1961, scooters and similar vehicles are defined as mechanically propelled vehicles.

“As such, before they can be used on public roads or in public places they must be covered by insurance, have motor tax and the driver appropriately licenced to operate them.

“Due to the nature of these vehicles, under existing road traffic law they are only suitable for use on private property.”

Minister Ross said enforcement of the legislation is a matter for the gardai and that various penalties were provided, along with powers for the detention of the vehicle when detected in use in contravention of the legislation.

The Minister added: “It is critically important that suppliers and retailers inform prospective purchasers that such vehicles can only be used on private property.

“Suppliers and retailers are reminded that the supply (which includes sale, hire, loan) of a mechanically propelled vehicle (including e-scooters and similar vehicles) to someone under the age of 16 is prohibited under the Road Traffic Acts.”

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