Ready steady scoot: Ireland to pave way for Micro mobility
The 21st century has changed a lot of things for a lot of people. One thing we can be sure of is that the way in which people move around cities has evolved. Pre Covid-19, the morning rush hour in Dublin and other cities was a force to be reckoned with. In a world where technological solutions are transforming the way in which we live and work, the transport sector has undoubtedly embraced this journey. One example of where we see this is in micro mobility. Ireland has already seen its EU counterparts and the UK embrace e-scooters and e-bikes and there is no doubt that these modes of transport will play a significant role in how people move around Irish cities in the future. The Irish Government is set to regulate micro mobility this year, which will open an entire marketplace for operators wishing to enter the Irish market.
Where does Ireland fit into the micro mobility landscape?
As of February 2021, the Irish Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan TD (Green Party), announced that he received approval to draft legislation to regulate for e-scooters and e-bikes in Ireland under the Road Traffic (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill. This is a significant development, as the law currently remains unclear with respect to the use of e-scooters and e-bikes in Ireland. Work to review the legality of e-scooters has been ongoing since 2019, and it is expected that they will be fully legislated for in Ireland before the end of 2021.
What will the Road Traffic (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill do?
- For e-scooters: The Minister proposes to create a new vehicle category, which will be known as ‘Powered Personal Transporters’ (PPTs) and will include e-scooters and similar devices. The proposed legislation will allow e-scooters to be used legally in a public place and will also address standards to be met by PPTs in the interests of safety. Tax, insurance and driving licenses will not be required.
- For e-bikes: Under current Irish law, e-bikes are not classed as ‘mechanically propelled vehicles’ (MPVs) or as pedal bicycles. E-bikes will now be legislated for using EU standards as a reference point and will be treated mainly in the same way as pedal cycles while the more powerful models of e-bike will be treated as light mopeds.
So, what happens next?
The Department of Transport will begin drafting the General Scheme of the Bill and bring it before the cabinet for approval. The Bill must then pass through all legislative stages of the Dáil (Lower House) and the Seanad (Upper House), of which there are ten. During each stage, the Bill will be examined, debated, and scrutinised and there may be amendments made. Once the Bill has passed, it will be sent to the Irish President, Michael D. Higgins, to be signed into law. It then becomes an Act and is added to the Irish Statute Book.
What should micro mobility companies be doing to prepare for this?
It is evident that several international e-scooter and e-bike rental companies are seeking to launch services in Ireland once legislation to permit their use is enacted. As in many other EU countries, it will be the responsibility of local authorities to issue tenders and select winning bidders to provide sharing services in their local area. There are 31 local authorities in Ireland, of which three are city councils and two are city and county councils. Fingal County Council, for example, based in North Dublin has already conducted a Request for Information (RFI) process. Cork City Council recently published their 20-year transport strategy, which places an emphasis on increased walking and cycling around the city and the CEO of Dublin City Council has expressed his support for e-scooters and e-bikes as part of Dublin’s overall transport mix.
In light of the competitive nature of pitches and tenders, it is imperative for micro mobility companies to start looking at:
- Unique selling points: What is your USP for Ireland?
- Stakeholder engagement: Are Irish stakeholders aware of your presence?
- Tendering: How ready are you to respond to Irish tenders?
- Wider audience: Have you engaged with third party stakeholders? For example, commuter coalitions, cycling groups.
While the global lockdowns have profoundly affected service-provider valuations, the micro mobility sector is expected to make a strong post pandemic recovery. Not only does it provide a sustainable way to move around cities, but it also reduces points of contact and makes it easier to maintain social distancing. Ireland has come a long way on its journey to legalise e-scooters as well as e-bikes, and the best is yet to come!
If you would like to discuss in more detail or for more information on how to navigate the Irish political system, please contact our micro mobility policy expert Chloe Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org