Embracing the future of e-scooters and making them work for everyone
Dr Amit Patel, a disability rights campaigner and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Consultant who advises e-scooter company Voi Technology, discusses the benefits of e-scooters, as well as the risks that accompany them, and highlights the importance of embracing new forms of transport.
I can’t ride an e-scooter. But, if I could, I most definitely would.
I have a visual impairment, which means that, at this moment, this new electric vehicle won’t ever be an option for me to use. Despite this, I still hope to see this new mode of transport take off, and here’s why.
Redefining the transport landscape
We all care about the environment and want to cut emissions, reduce the pollution in the air that we breathe and leave our cars at home where possible. E-scooters can help us to achieve that.
E-scooters have given us a real opportunity to redefine the transport landscape and open up mobility options for many different types of people”
E-scooters have given us a real opportunity to redefine the transport landscape and open up mobility options for many different types of people. But, they also have their challenges, from irresponsible riding to incorrect parking and the sudden shock when an e-scooter whizzes past you on the pavement. This can be terrifying, whether or not you are visually impaired, like I am.
Another challenge is legality. There are currently 50 rental e-scooter trials taking place across England, but most e-scooters you’ll see are privately owned and illegal to ride on public roads. Often, they come with no safety guidance, top speeds of 68mph and the law around them is not consistently enforced.
Ensuring rider and pedestrian safety
I’m heartened to hear that audible scooter sounds are being trialled in Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool, which will help to make them much safer for people with sight impairments”
I can’t control private e-scooters, but we can all help to ensure that public concerns are considered when it comes to rental e-scooters. I’m heartened to hear that audible scooter sounds are being trialled in Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool, which will help to make them much safer for people with sight impairments. But operators also need to continue to take a firmer stance on misuse and negligence, including banning individuals who repeatedly break the rules.
Government and local authorities also need to display clear leadership and make clear decisions about how they want their high streets to look. If you want to reduce the number of vehicles on the road, you need to provide the appropriate infrastructure – one car parking bay can house 20 e-scooters, taking them off of the pavement and making it safer for everyone.
Then there is individual user responsibility. Each rider needs to understand how to ride the scooter safely, as well as understand that there are consequences if they don’t follow the rules.
Advocating for the future of e-scooters
I am convinced that we must embrace the future and work constructively to make a new form of transport safer”
If e-scooters are going to become a permanent fixture on our roads, then we need to nationally set standards, rules and guidelines, plus ensure enforcement. Afterall, this is the first time that a new form of transport has been introduced to the streets in 100 years.
You might wonder why someone like me with a visual impairment is working with an e-scooter company. You may ask why I am not campaigning, like some people, to try to get them banned. I am convinced that we must embrace the future and work constructively to make a new form of transport safer. Let’s come together to make rental e-scooters work for everybody in the best way possible.
Dr Amit Patel is a disability rights campaigner; Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Consultant; motivational speaker; charity Trustee; and best-selling author, who advises e-scooter company Voi Technology. He is registered severely sight impaired (blind) having lost his sight to keratoconus in 2013.
Alternative Power, Mobility Services, On-Demand Transport, Passenger Accessibility, Passenger Experience, Sustainable Urban Transport, Transport Governance & Policy, Vehicle & Passenger Safety
Bikes & Scooters
Dr Amit Patel