TIER provides the blind and the visually impaired with safer electric scooters
Because some vulnerable road users are concerned that vehicles will be difficult to detect when approaching. Sound will be added to the TIER scooters.
TIER, an electric-scooter operator, is working on adding sounds to its vehicles to alert the blind and visually impaired to its approach. Europe's largest operator has teamed up with national charity Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT) and will use the organisation's latest research to design features that will be rolled out across its fleet in 2021.
More than two million people in the UK are blind or partially blind, according to the Royal Society of the Blind, and some are treating the recently launched trials of electric scooters with caution.
Many people worry that electric scooters will be hard to spot when approaching, either blind or visually impaired. TIER hopes that by installing sound in his vehicles and calling on other operators to follow suit, safety standards can be improved and the confidence of visually impaired pedestrians can be built on electric scooters on the road.
TIER says the sound will complement its existing technology, which allows vehicles to stop in places where cycling is prohibited. The Visual Impairment Committee, funded by TPT and led by members of the blind and visually impaired, will conduct research in the UK and organize focus groups to determine how electric scooters sound, when and where they are used, and how people with impaired vision can be educated about the function.
Fred Jones, TIER's managing director in the UK, said: "Electric scooters can bring many benefits to UK cities, but they must be introduced in a thoughtful way, working in harmony with local communities and addressing the concerns of people with visual impairment.
"At TIER, we are not only providing oral services to visually impaired people, but we also want to work with them and take real action to address their concerns. We are excited to work with Thomas Pocklington Trust to design and roll out sound alerts on our scooters next year."
Charles Colquhoun, CEO of Thomas Pocklington Trust, is delighted to be working with the electric scooter company: "We are delighted that TIER is working with us through the Vision Loss Board and now has a deeper understanding and compassion for the blind and their concerns.
"By introducing an audio alert system, TIER directly responds to concerns that the introduction of silent, heavy and fast electric scooters poses a real danger to blind and visually impaired people. It also agreed to include advice and guidance in its introductory information for each ride to improve the visual awareness of electric scooter drivers.
"We understand the advantages of electric scooters as an environmentally friendly mode of transportation, especially for cities, but it has to be safe to ensure that everyone has access to our streets. We therefore welcome these developments and are pleased to support TIER in bringing the audio system to its electric scooters."