E-scooters to be given artificial noise to help blind people, says TfL boss

11 August 2021, 12:57

Nick Ferrari quizzes TFL Boss Andy Byford

By Emma Soteriou

E-scooters could get artificial noises added to them to help blind people, Transport for London (TfL) boss Andy Byford has said.

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari, Mr Byford revealed that adding sound to the vehicles was a possibility moving forward.

It comes amid concerns about the safety of blind people, who may be vulnerable to e-scooter incidents on the pavement due to their quietness.

"In the same way we've, effectively, put noise generators on our e-buses because, again, you can't really hear them," Mr Byford said.

"It's one of the joys of them - they're clean, they're quiet - but actually you need to generate a buzz so that people hear them coming.

"For the scooters, that may well be an option, to put some sort of sound on them so blind people could hear them."

E-scooters have caused particular problems for blind people due to their speed and weight as well as the fact people are using them on pavements.

Read more: Police officer left with serious injuries after being hit by e-scooter rider in London

Read more: E-scooters a 'fatal free-for-all' which 'ruin lives', says Tory Peer

Blind caller 'scared' to walk streets due to e-scooters on pavement

One caller, who is blind, previously told LBC's Shelagh Fogarty: "My partner, who is fully sighted, and I were walking around the back streets and, without any warning from behind, whizzed by a young person, recklessly driving on an e-scooter, very narrowly missed my white guide cane.

"We could have been involved in an accident - these things are heavy and dangerous on the pavement."

"...I'm scared, now, to walk the streets."

Read more: Blind caller fears London e-scooters will endanger partially-sighted people

Caller on e-scooters: 'They're 38 kilos - a significant weight.'

It comes as there have been increased reports of accidents from the use of e-scooters.

Metropolitan police have also been cracking down on the illegal private use of them on public roads and pavements.

That said, the vehicles are currently being trialled as part of a renting scheme in nine London boroughs:

  • City of London
  • Ealing
  • Hammersmith & Fulham
  • Kensington and Chelsea
  • Lambeth (north of the borough only)
  • Richmond upon Thames
  • Southwark
  • Tower Hamlets
  • Westminster

However, Mr Byford said that they were not guaranteed to become a part of permanent transport in the capital.

It will depend on a number of factors, including the safety record, customer feedback, and abuse of them.

"At the end of the day, we will evaluate what the usage has been and then we'll make a decision," he said.