Much has been said about the increased visibility of e-scooters in recent years. During the time of peak Covid-19, in cities around the world, e-scooters became especially popular as many people preferred riding solo, compared to taking the bus or train, where the risk of catching the virus was plainly higher, or even taxis, which are rarely the economical choice. Some have chosen the e-scooter as their preferred mode of transport as it can avoid congestion in many cities.
Consequentially, in a largely post-Covid-19 world, it is is no longer uncommon for people to experience the unnerving and often dangerous situation of a rider of an e-scooter zipping past to overtake a pedestrian, whether from the left side or right, at speeds that often exceed the traffic regulations of the city.
As in many countries, the popularity of e-scooters is evident in the UAE. With a progressive increase in their numbers, the need for safety becomes ever more important. Taking these factors into account, the country has rightly set in motion a safety campaign nationwide. The authorities have instructed riders of e-scooters to stick to paths and zones that are especially designated for this use, which is to say, not everywhere.
Safety being the priority, there is the emphasis and reminder for riders to wear their helmets, knee pads and reflective clothing, especially when riding scooters at night, so that drivers of cars and pedestrians are alert and accidents can be averted. The possible dangers of these stealthy, often silent, vehicles are well-known.
There have been laws in place in the UAE since 2010 on the use of helmets while riding bicycles, and any other two-wheeled devices, but compliance can sometimes be lax. Last year, hospitals told The National they had seen a steady rise in accidents involving e-scooters, including broken bones and head injuries.
To be clear, the popularity of e-scooters is a good thing and greatly beneficial for cities and residents. These scooters are cost-effective, energy-efficient and go a long way to facilitate mobility and ease of movement while potentially reducing traffic snarls. They are also especially handy when it comes to short distances that are perhaps too long to walk to, and too short to shell out cab-fare for.
Considering the inherent virtue of e-scooters, being environmentally friendly, cities may see more of a proliferation still. By all indicators, this is already happening. The global market value of e-scooters stands at $22.28 billion this year, according to the US-based market research and consulting company Grand View Research. And looking ahead, by 2028, the global electric scooters market is expected to reach $34.7bn.
The demand for fuel-efficient mobility vehicles is only going to rise with time. And this is likely to have a bearing on the further growth of the electric scooters market. In the UAE, electric vehicles are very much a part of a longer-term sustainable plan. An extended network of electric vehicles forms part of the UAE Energy Strategy 2050.
With regard to safety in riding e-scooters in the UAE, it is just a matter of further fine-tuning the existing regulatory framework. A month ago, Dubai laid out new rules that state riders of these vehicles must hold a licence or a permit. Rule-breakers face fines, a necessary move to promote compliance on the roads and make safety for riders and pedestrians the default setting, which is as good a place to build on as any.