Electric scooters banned in Dubai amid concerns over 'irresponsible' riders

The Roads and Transport Authority has outlawed the vehicles while it investigates ways to regulate their use

Dubai's transport authority has banned electric scooters from the emirate while it investigates how to regulate their use.

The Roads and Transport Authority issued a circular last month outlawing the vehicles until further notice and stating it was assessing the legal requirements for their operation.

The RTA is “currently considering the technical and legislative requirements to allow the operation of electric scooters in addition to the conditions and commitment of scooter drivers,” said the circular.

In October, the French government announced plans to ban electric scooters from sidewalks and require riders to use bike lanes or roads.

The RTA's move has prompted one company, Skoot Mobility, to delay their planned launch in the emirate this month while the future of the mode of transport is clouded in uncertainty.

Once we get a green light in how the regulations are set we will launch in the proper way

“We have decided to hold off on operating in the market. We were watching our competitors and have seen that they have had a lot of backlash from Dubai Police as well as the RTA. So we have decided to hold off on the launch in order to work closely with the RTA,” said a spokeswoman.

“Once we get a green light in how the regulations are set we will launch in the proper way.”

Other companies already operating in the industry have confirmed they were asked to halt operations by the RTA.

Qwikly, a California-based company which claims to have been the first to launch its shared electric scooter platform in the UAE last November, confirmed it is no longer renting out scooters in Dubai.

It is currently only operating in one location in the UAE in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi.

The company said it is working with the RTA to get back on the road in Dubai.

"Qwikly supports the RTA's need to research the impact of eScooters on Dubai. Safety of users and pedestrians is paramount to both Qwikly and the RTA,” said a spokesman.

“We look forward to getting eScooters back in town in the near future.”

In a post on Facebook, another Dubai-based electric scooter company, KIWIride confirmed it was also asked to park its scooters.

“Irresponsible riding by some KIWI users has led to the authorities asking us to take scooters off the streets. But you can still enjoy your ride with e-scooters delivered to your doorstep,” said the post from early March.

That was subsequently followed up with a second post last week which read: “Dear riders, due to [a] 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.”

It is not known whether any other areas remain operational, as it is understood the RTA circular requires companies to cease all rentals across the city. The company has not yet responded to a request for comment.

In a reply to the KIWIride post, one customer said there were “huge safety issues” involved. She said she has seen people riding scooters in the middle of the street who were almost hit by a car.

“The other day I saw two riders on Jumeirah Road, riding okay on the road, but were almost hit by someone who opened [their] car door.

“It’s a cool idea, but too many restrictions to use even on Jumeirah Road.”

If Dubai does decide to impose regulations, it will follow dozens of cities across the world which have already done so. In the US, around 10 states currently have measures in place, but they are likely to be followed by around a dozen more before the end of the year, in part to address safety concerns.

Last October, nine people filed a lawsuit against two of the US's largest electric scooter rental companies, Lime and Bird, for “gross negligence.” Three plaintiffs were injured after tripping over them on the pavement, while  a seven-year-old boy, suffered damage to eight of his front teeth and had to have his lip stitched back together after scooters rammed into him from behind as he walked.

RTA has not yet responded to a request for comment.