Could We Soon See A Big Increase Of E-Scooters On Our Streets?Highlights from The Pat Kenny Show
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- 11 Feb 2021
With proper legislation on the way, could we soon see a big increase in the amount e-scooters on our streets? Pat spoke to one company who could play a big role in that. Duncan Robertson, General Manager for UK & Ireland Region for Dott scooters spoke about preparing to enter the market and make e-scooters safer on our roads.
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The part Kenny show on news talk with Marter private network during current restrictions. Don't ignore your health concerns. Our expert team is ready to help. With new legislation on scooters imminent, will there be a rollout of a scheme akin to Dublin bikes in the capital and beyond? Well, Dutch company DART certainly hope so.
The Scooters Service has had a presence in 16 cities and has recently called on the government to consider various safety measures once legislation has been put in place. The general manager for DOT for UK and Ireland region, Duncan Robertson, is on the line. Duncan, good morning and welcome.
Good morning. Good morning. Now tell me about how your system works in the various cities where it has been rolled out. Are there parking stations? How are they recharged? How do you pay for the service?
Yeah, absolutely. Yes, you do pay for the service. Most of our trips are around 13 to 15 minutes and that costs in the region of about just over a euro. So it's a pretty reasonable way to get around. And we work really collaboratively with the cities that we operate in. We're currently operating, as you mentioned, in 16 cities across Europe, including large cities like Paris and slightly smaller ones, probably akin to Dublin, maybe like Leone and Brussels.
We work with those authorities. We identify locations where the scooters need to be parked and then our users have to end their journeys from those locations. So this really helps with making sure that we have an orderly and tidy streetscape.
Yeah, because I've been to cities where they just get off the scooters and leave them on the side of the road.
Indeed, your system works.
No, this is something that we as an industry have definitely learned from over the past few years. And now the industry does definitely seem to be moving towards the way that we operate, which is, as I say, with these virtual but there's some physical presence on the ground so that you can know exactly where to put the scooter. But it just keeps that orderly and tidy streetscape and avoids those issues that you will have experienced.
Now, do you register for the service? And therefore, you know, you sign up your credit card and once you've done that, you carry on and they charge you accordingly. Is that how it works?
That's exactly how it works. You simply download the app and then you scan the QR code that is on the top of the scooter. Then you can write wherever you like within within the zone that is is permitted. And then as you say, you get charged at the end of your ride. We we use we have a weekly and monthly passes as well to to kind of keep the price even further down.
Are the scooters recharged when they're back in their dock? You know, so the way that we do it is we actually have swappable batteries, so when the scooter reaches about 25 to 20 percent battery charge, we get notified. That means that the team gets sent out. They go to the scooter, they remove the battery, they replace it with a fully charged battery. And then that scooter is totally available, ready to go. And and it can be that it could be high up again.
Do people have to wear helmets? How much is not a legal requirement, but we strongly recommend that in all of the training that we provide online as well as on the street, we encourage people to wear helmets. In fact, as you mentioned, we've submitted a few recommendations to the government around scooty legislation. One of those is that certainly 16 to 18 year olds should have a have a mandatory requirement for helmets. And safety is obviously absolutely critical for the successful rollout of scooters.
What sort of speeds are permitted? So at the moment, whilst the legislation is coming through, that there is there is no, no, no legislation on this. As you know, we've recommended that the cap is 25 kilometers per hour. This is kind of aligned with bike top speeds and also aligned with many other European cities. What we do do, however, is for the initial rollout, when we launch a city, we can either set the speed at maybe 20 kilometers an hour.
And certainly for the first few rides, we slow the speed for the riders just so they can get used to it. It's a brand new mode of transport for most people. Most people have not ridden is. So it's really important that we we ease people into it.
But we're 25 kilometers is our recommendation is that at one of the issues that people have, say, with cyclists today, never mind, is scooters, is that often there's an ignorance of etiquette and protocol. I mean, when I was a kid learning to cycle, you were told how to give hand signals and so on. That doesn't seem to happen anymore. People just get up on a bike and off they go. At the same will happen with their scooters.
Alex, one of my Newstalk texta, says these scooters will increase car insurance claims. The scooter users should have to have a license to prove they know the rules of the road. Another one. I'm a motorcyclist of many, many years as a two wheeler user. I've seen the electric scooter users in general being reckless. All walks of life. There must be robust legislation for safe use. They propel quite quickly and have tiny wheels, dangerous, in my view, with cycle lanes, etc.
. The city will be inaccessible for many people. That's from Ray in Dublin six. Someone else wanting to know, do they have audible warnings? Do they have a bell? Do they have a horn because they're silent and they can sneak up on you. Many people suggesting it'll just be dangerous. What do you say to all those arguments? I'm sure you've heard the many times.
There's a lot of things to cover there from your listeners. So in terms of audible warning, yes, they absolutely they have a bell. And actually we're working also with a university in the UK to identify a particular noise that we will emit from the scooter just to make sure that that silent issue is removed. Obviously, there's a balance between making that too obnoxious, but also having a noise that, you know, particularly for visually impaired to be able to hear the scooters, is coming in terms of turn signals.
A, they do have turn signals. They're triggered by a little button on the handlebars so the rider doesn't have to remove their hands from the the the handlebars.
And they can signal very, very easily in terms of the robustness of the of the legislation and the use of private E scooters.
I think, you know, there is an opportunity for Ireland to put in robust legislation effectively starting from scratch when it comes to share schemes such and such as the offering. We're able to put in lots of safeguards. So, for example, we can have no go zones where scooters simply aren't able to be ridden. And what happens is the power is cut. When you go into it, it slows you down safely. You then receive a text on your on your phone to go back into the operating zone and then you can go again, was able to implement slow zones.
So if there's an area of potential conflict with cyclists, pedestrians or other road users, we can reduce the speed to walking pace. So again, these measures we we can put in places as shed operator companies to to reduce the risk of conflict. There was one of point that was mentioned by a listener around insurance. I think I don't think the insurance is going to be mandatory with the legislation. However, all users on every trip are covered with a fully comprehensive insurance.
So if the worst comes to worst, and I hasten to add, it is generally, particularly on shared schemes, not a massive issue, that there is coverage there for everyone involved.
And does that cover someone who might be a victim of two-Wheeler as well as a writer who might fall off? Absolutely.
It's fairly comprehensive, so. It's kind of third party for those not on scooters and for also the writer as well. I take it from your remarks, Duncan, that you will be tendering when Dublin City should the legislation go through, when the city opens up for business. You'll want to be here.
Yeah, absolutely. We see Dublin and actually we see a number of cities in in Ireland as a as a as a real kind of opportunity. And they're kind of ripe for that for taking on scooters. You know, we've spoken to Cork and Limerick Galway as well. And I think they're all interested. Obviously, they're waiting for the legislation to happen. But once that once that does happen, we will be taking part in the tendering process. And obviously we'll work really closely with them to ensure that, you know, the goals and objectives of of the of the authorities are met with a couple of quick questions.
What about drunken people just leaving them lying around town on a Saturday night? Is that possible? You know, they just abandoned the scooter. Now you will find them. They'll probably charge them a huge amount of money if they do that. But they could be kind of messy, hazardous for people who might come upon them.
Indeed. So we've got a couple of solutions that we've developed for this kind of activity. One, as I mentioned before, you can't and your trip unless you're in a parking bay. So there is a chance to ask you to get abandoned. And as you rightly say, we will we will know about that. And the journey will time out after a few minutes and then we will go and collect that that scooter. But as a preemptive measure, we're actually developing a part of our app which tests people's reactions, speed, which we will deploy at certain times of the week when, you know, the likelihood of drunken riding might increase so that then we can stop that before it even stops them.
Yeah, this text, Lovatt scooters have to be the future for Dublin with covid-19 and public transport problems. Just a final technical thing, Duncan, about the size of the wheel, because some of the scooters that kids use, that wheels are tiny. If they go into a pothole, they're bunched.
So what size is your wheel and how robust is the machine itself?
Yeah, so it's a really great question. And that the wheels that we use a 12 inches, so they're pretty large for scooters. The robustness of the vehicles has come along enormously and they're very, very strong. And one of the key kind of environmental factors is that these these vehicles last three to four years as opposed to a few months, that a kind of less robust vehicle would. So, yeah, they're really they've really come along and we're very proud of our hardware, which we've developed in-house.
Donkin, thank you very much for joining us. Sounds like exciting times ahead. Duncan Robertson, general manager for the UK and Ireland region for DOT Scooters.