Tier e-scooters will make artificial noise to warn blind pedestrians they are in close proximity to reduce the risk of collision from 2021, the micro-mobility operator confirmed. Naturally, such a noise will also minimise risk to the partially sighted, other pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists. Tier has ‘committed to adding sound to its vehicles’, it emphasised. What sound remains to be seen.
This upgrade is likely to be welcomed by anyone concerned by safety. Why? Because Tier is among the companies that – on a trial basis – is allowed to rent e-scooters to the public. It currently has a fleet of fifty e-scooters in York. That figure could increase to several hundred within a few months. If such trials prove successful, the law might change to allow e-scooters to become common.
Tier UK General Manager, Fred Jones, confirmed his company wants to be responsible. He said: 'E-scooters offer lots of benefits to cities but they must be introduced in a considered way. They must work in harmony with local communities and account for the concerns of people with visual impairment.’
Mr Jones therefore emphasised that ‘rather than pay lip service’ to the challenges faced by visually impaired people he wants to ‘work with them’. There must be ‘real action to address concerns’, he added. The Thomas Pocklington Trust – which supports blind and partially sighted people – has therefore offered its insight so the scooter company can pick effective solutions.
The Trust also praised the company for being proactive. Its Chief Executive Officer, Charles Colquhoun, said: ‘Tier is responding to concerns that silent, heavy, fast e-scooters represent a danger to blind and partially sighted people. It has also agreed to incorporate advice and guidance to promote vision awareness for e-scooter riders in its induction information for each scooter hire.’
Further safety features
A Tier e-scooter has more safety features than its forthcoming noise. ‘We are proud to be the first provider to add an integrated helmet’, the company said. Furthermore, it has the ‘largest’ front wheel on the market and dual shock absorbers. These create a ‘smoother’ and safer ride. A smoother ride ensures there is less chance of being thrown off by a bump, for instance. Further expect:
- two brake levers on the handlebar rather than the ‘typical one’
- double kickstand that keeps the scooter stable while parked rather than the ‘less stable’ single
- number plates so riders that behave poorly can be traced.