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The road ahead for e-scooter legislation in Ireland

Author Keith Hoare
Published 30 Jun 2023
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Public Affairs and Policy

We are public affairs experts and advise a variety of clients on political, regulatory, legislative and reputational issues.

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It’s four years since I first began advising operators on efforts to regulate for e-scooters in Ireland. Since then, it has been a rollercoaster ride for those wishing to establish shared e-scooter schemes in the Irish market.

Patience is a virtue

An initial period of great excitement and positive anticipation eventually led to frustration and at times, even a sense of hopelessness. The government at one point indicated its expectation the then Road Traffic (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2019 – later to be renamed the Road Traffic and Roads Bill 2021 - would become law in early 2021. In hindsight, it may have been a mistake to bundle in the e-scooter issue with a host of other transport amendments which included management of the M50, CCTV recording and scrambler bikes.

Strong dialogue has been key

The extended period of scrutiny has allowed policy-makers, disability and community advocates, as well as industry the opportunity to collaborate to ensure the legislation reflects the rapid changes in e-scooter technology and safety capabilities that have been evident in recent years. In March 2022, the Joint Committee on Transport Communications showed the importance of this dialogue when it heard expert testimony from Bird, Spin, Zipp Mobility, Lime, Bolt, Voi, Dott and Superpedestrian. While there has been some M&A activity in the sector since those appearances, the appetite to enter Ireland extends to many more operators.

The result of this dialogue is that we have a robust legal framework, signed into law by President Higgins last week. So, what are the key features of the primary legislation as it applies to e-scooters, or personal powered transports (PPTs) as they’re classified as in the Act?

Road Traffic and Roads Bill 2021 – key features

  • Maximum speed of 25 km/h, lower speed limits on designated roads

  • Minimum age of 16 to ride an e-scooter

  • Maximum continuous rate of power output of 0.5 kilowatts

  • Maximum net weight of 25kg

  • Fully fitted with front and rear lights, a bell, brakes as well as reflectors

  • Not allowed on footpaths or motorways

Cheerful woman riding push scooter on street in city during vacation.
The Road Traffic and Roads Bill 2021 has several important provisions, such as speed restriction, reduced speed limits, a 16-year-old minimum age for use, and a ban on using them on footpaths and highways.

What’s next?

Crucially, the Department of Transport are preparing regulations using secondary legislation that will govern user behaviour and specific vehicle standards. The e-scooter draft technical regulations must be submitted to the EU Technical Regulation Inspection Service (TRIS) under the Single Market Transparency Directive (EU) 2015/1535. This process allows Member States and the Commission to consider whether proposed technical legislation would create barriers to freedom of movement of goods and services within the EU and will take a minimum of 12 weeks to complete. We should expect the e-scooter regulations to come in to force in Q4 of this year.

Local authorities, as is fit and proper, will oversee their own sharing schemes which will, in many instances, involve overhauling byelaws. However, it would be unwise for local authorities not to engage with operators while byelaws are being worked on. Ireland radically needs to shift away from a high dependency on private car usage to a more sustainable, shared mode of transport and e-scooters play a part in this transformative change.

female engineer installing charging station in parking lot.
E-scooter draft technical regulations must be submitted to the EU Technical Regulation Inspection Service to assess if proposed technical legislation has the potential to create barriers of goods and service within the EU.

While most operators will be primarily focusing on a potential joint tendering process by Dublin local authorities as well as keeping an eye on Cork, Limerick and Galway, it would be unfortunate to not look further afield. Areas such as Drogheda, Athlone, Navan, Dundalk, Waterford, Kilkenny and Sligo will benefit significantly from shared e-scooter sharing schemes.

My advice to operators is that if you haven’t engaged substantively with local authorities, you need to do so now. Copy and paste solutions from other cities won’t necessarily work in Ireland. Considering local infrastructure needs – which can differ vastly between neighbouring towns and cities - coupled with an operator’s strong track record of safety and reliability will be important criteria for successful tender applicants.

While we’ve come a very long way, things are about to truly scoot off.

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