The charity has welcomed a delay to trials in Scotland
RNIB Scotland has welcomed the Scottish Government’s decision to delay trials of rented e-scooters.
The sight loss charity said serious concerns remained over the safety of the vehicles and has campaigned for tighter safeguards before any trials begin in Scotland.
These include setting a maximum speed limit of 12.5mph; barring the scooters from pavements; and ensuring they are parked in designated areas separate from pedestrians.
The call comes in response to the UK Department for Transport inviting councils to trial rented e-scooter programmes in their areas. It is hoped that such schemes would reduce the number of cars on the road and lessen demand on public transport while social distancing measures are in place.
To date, no Scottish local authority has confirmed plans for a trial in their area, and the Scottish Government has said guidance and legislation will take longer to amend to allow for their use north of the border.
RNIB Scotland said it broadly supported the objectives of scooter schemes, but stressed that their introduction must be on a basis that does not present safety issues for people with sight loss.
One trial scheme in Middlesbrough has already been scaled back following reports of “widespread misuse”, including underage users using the vehicles to speed through shopping centres and a number of near-misses with elderly pedestrians.
RNIB Scotland director James Adams said: "While we support moves to encourage active travel and reduce congestion, our concerns about e-scooters are that they are silent, so people with sight loss won't know if they are approaching, and also that the maximum speed permitted has been set at 15.5 miles per hour, when we pressed for no more than 12.5. E-scooters are not light and a collision with anyone travelling at 15.5 mph could potentially result in a serious injury."
He added: "Just as people with sight loss won't be able to see or hear an e-scooter, it may not always be obvious to someone riding one they are approaching a pedestrian who won't know they're there.
"We are calling for effective enforcement along with a nationwide awareness campaign to inform the public about the dangers this presents to disabled people. We'd also like a full public consultation at the end of any 12-month trial period on whether e-scooter rental schemes and private-use e-scooters should be legalised in the longer-term."