Richard Thomson, Member of Parliament for Gordon helped raise awareness of the impact e-scooters have on people with sight loss when they met the charity Guide Dogs at the Scottish National Party conference at the weekend.
There has been a rapid increase in the number of fast, heavy and almost-silent e-scooters on our streets since the introduction of limited trial schemes in 2020. However, it remains illegal to ride privately owned e-scooters on public land. Due to widespread confusion about the law the majority of e-scooters on the streets are being used illegally, including on the pavement and at high speeds.
Research by Guide Dogs found that three quarters of people with sight loss who have encountered an e-scooter have already reported having a negative experience. Half of people with sight loss who have encountered an e-scooter have changed their behaviour because of e-scooters, including not going to some parts of their town, changing their regular routes and shortening trips outside to reduce their risk of encountering e-scooters.
The UK Government has indicated that the upcoming Transport Bill will legalise private e-scooters for the first time in England, Scotland and Wales.
Richard Thomson MP is supporting Guide Dogs’ Scoot Aware campaign, which calls for urgent action to be taken to ensure e-scooters are safe for everyone, and particularly people with sight loss.
Commenting, Richard Thomson MP said:
“This was a very useful opportunity to catch up on current issues affecting people like Jon and his guide dog Sam, and it was a pleasure to meet them both.
“The issue of e-scooters is an important one and the research shows it clearly affects guide dog users and partially-sighted people. There needs to be a consistent approach so that no one group is disadvantaged once these machines are legalised.”
Chris Theobald, Senior Policy, Public Affairs and Campaigns Manager for Guide Dogs said:
“Any new law on e-scooters must consider the impact they are already having on people with sight loss.
“Pavements are for people but all too often, e-scooters are being illegally ridden on or abandoned on the pavement creating additional obstacles for people with sight loss. That is why we are asking for a ban on their use on the pavements, a strict cap on their weight, power and speed. There should also be mandatory docked parking for rental e-scooters and a coherent and consistent approach to police enforcement on anti-social e-scooter use.”
Notes to editors:
Photo attached shows Richard Thomson MP with Jon and his guide dog Sam at the Guide Dogs stand at SNP Conference in Aberdeen.
Guide Dogs is here to help the two million people living with sight loss live the life they choose. Children and adults. Friends and family. Our expert staff, volunteers and life-changing dogs are here to help people affected by sight loss live actively, independently and well. Find out more at www.guidedogs.org.uk
Figures on behaviour change come from research conducted by Insight Angels and Guide Dogs in January and February 2022. Insight Angels conducted a detailed survey of a representative sample of 151 people with sight loss
You can read Guide Dogs’ latest report on e-scooters “Scoot Aware” on their website here https://www.guidedogs.org.uk/how-you-can-help/campaigning/our-current-campaigns/transport/
For more information about Guide Dogs and its e-scooter campaign, contact [email protected]