TIER has committed to adding sound to its e-scooters to alert blind and partially sighted people that they are approaching.
The micromobility operator has partnered with national charity Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT) and will be using the findings of new research to design the feature and roll it out across its fleet next year.
TIER e-scooters on trial in York
The introduction of e-scooter trials has led to concerns about the safety of blind and partially sighted people, both when illegally used on footways and when legally ridden on the road.
TIER said it hopes that by installing a sound in its vehicles, and calling on other operators to follow suit, it can raise safety standards and help to build confidence among visually impaired pedestrians.
The firm said its sound will complement its existing technology, which slows vehicles to a halt in areas where riding is forbidden.
Fred Jones, TIER’s UK general manager, said: 'E-scooters offer lots of benefits to UK cities, but they must be introduced in a considered way, working in harmony with local communities and accounting for the concerns of people with visual impairment.
‘At TIER, rather than just paying lip service to visually impaired people, we want to work with them to deliver real action to address their concerns. So we are thrilled to be working with Thomas Pocklington Trust to design and roll out a sound alert across our vehicles next year.’
TPT CEO Charles Colquhoun said: ‘By introducing the audio alert systems TIER is directly responding to the concerns that the introduction of silent, heavy and fast e-scooters represents a real danger to blind and partially sighted people.
‘It has also agreed to incorporate advice and guidance to promote vision awareness for e-scooter riders within its induction information for each e-scooter hire.’
He added: ‘We understand the benefits of e-scooters as an environmentally friendly transport option, particularly for cities, but these must be safe so that our streets are accessible for all. So, we welcome these developments and are delighted to support TIER in introducing the audio systems to its e-scooters.'
TIER said sight loss councils, funded by TPT and led by blind and partially sighted members, will be performing research and running focus groups across the UK to shape how the e-scooters should sound, when and where the sound should be used, and how visually impaired people can be educated on the feature.