Did The Dubai Municipality Just Ban E-scooters? But Why?

Published March 15th, 2019 - 11:00 GMT
(Shutterstock/ File)
(Shutterstock/ File)

As per the law, e-scooters are categorised as motorcycles and not allowed on roads unless they are licensed.

There is no total ban on electric scooters in Dubai, but companies have been barred from renting them out, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has clarified.

A top RTA official said the authority is conducting a study to come up with relevant laws "including possibly the licensing of e-scooters like what we require for motorcycles".

Mousa Al Raeisi, director of monitoring and enforcement at the RTA's licensing agency, explained that as per the law, e-scooters are categorised as motorcycles and not allowed on roads unless they are licensed.

"But you can use your e-scooters in closed areas, or if they are allowed by the Dubai Municipality, including in parks and inside campuses."

Mattar Al Tayer, director-general and chairman of the board of executive directors of RTA, recently met with electric scooter rental companies to discuss the ban.

Al Tayer highlighted that to ensure the safety of all road users, the RTA has issued a circular that asked all e-scooter rental firms to stop their operations on the streets, until new regulations are formed. The transport agency is conducting a study, upon which the new policies will be based.

Popular electric scooter rental companies, however, attributed the ban to incidents of "irresponsible driving" by some scooter riders.

The move came as a surprise to frequent users of this popular mode of transport.

Nadia Mendez, a Jumeirah Lakes Towers resident who used to ride a scooter from her home to her workplace in the same vicinity, said she could no longer find any rides available on the KIWIride app since a week ago. KIWIride is an e-scooter sharing platform that has recently been gaining popularity across the region.

"When I couldn't find any ride for a couple of days, I wrote to them and they responded by saying that the authorities had asked them to take the scooters off the streets due to irresponsible driving by some riders."

Hoping that the ban would be removed soon, Nadia said: "I feel sad as, being a fairly new scooter rider, I loved riding it and exploring my community. In fact, I think it is a great option for residents who work in areas that are near their residences.

"But I would be happy to know that the authorities have done this temporarily to ensure that the scooters are used safely. These should be regulated as some riders go very fast and that could scare the pedestrians as well as new scooter riders."

Scooter firms respond

Upon contacting the call centre of KIWIride, Khaleej Times was told that the scooter rentals were put on hold temporarily as the RTA and the Dubai Police were in the process of forming new rules to provide people with better services.

On Instagram, the company posted a notice last week, which read: "Dear riders, due to Dubai Police request, scooters which are in Jumeirah areas, Umm Suqeim, Al Safa, Al Wasl, Umm Al Sheif, Al Manara, Bur Dubai areas will be blocked at the moment until advised, while other areas will still be active/operational. Thank you."

Eco-friendly kick scooter rental service Skoot Mobility, which is set to launch pilot phases on non-RTA land 'very soon', said it delayed its launch "due to exogenous factors".

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Skoot Mobility co-founder Nadia Kartas said the home-grown brand had conducted extensive research and found out that plying on RTA-regulated areas without appropriate guidelines and approvals from the authority is not sustainable.

"Skoot Mobility has always been cautious and prudent in its approach. Rider safety and integration into the RTA's excellent public transportation system is fundamental to us.

"We are planning on bringing in scooters within geo-fenced, gated communities to serve as a pilot phase and then replicate the operations on a city level once the RTA regulations allow us to do so. In the interim, we will patiently wait and work with them."

Road expert calls for regulation

P.M. Abdul Razak, operations manager at Emirates Driving Institute, said driving e-scooters on the roads must be restricted without proper rules in place.

"E-scooters, if used on the road alongside other vehicles without designated lanes and rules for it, can pose a threat not only to pedestrians and other road users, but also to its own riders. These vehicles do not have a sudden move-off capacity (power), which could be a great danger in case they suddenly try to manoeuvre the scooter on a busy road, especially on junctions, roundabouts, zebra crossings, etc," Razak said.

"Also, these e-scooters are considerably small and don't have enough 'warning lights', so they are not so visible to other road users. However, if a separate track will be allocated for them, then this mode of transport can be promoted.

"Since these are eco-friendly and economical, more people will opt for them. This can help reduce the number of vehicles on the road."

Jet, a Filipino resident who bought an e-scooter just last week, agreed that it is inexpensive, convenient and offers a great way to beat the traffic.

"The regulation of laws will ensure the safety of e-scooter users, it's a good move," he said.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

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