8 October 2021
Sharma meets with Guide Dogs

Alok Sharma, the Member of Parliament of Reading West, visited the Guide Dogs stand at Conservative Party Conference this month.

During the visit, Alok learnt about the Guide Dogs’ campaign to raise awareness of the danger that unsafe e-scooter use poses for people with sight loss.

There are limited trials of rental e-scooters taking place in parts of the country to help the Government decide whether they can be used legally more widely on our streets. However, there has been a boom in sales of privately-owned e-scooters which are not legal to use on public roads – yet their use is widespread.

YouGov polling produced for the charity Guide Dogs showed that 92% of people who had seen an e-scooter in the past 6 months, had seen one driven on the pavement. E-scooters driven unsafely on the pavement cause problems for many pedestrians, but people with sight loss who cannot see an e-scooter approach are particularly at risk.

There is also widespread support for Guide Dogs’ call to require e-scooters to make a continuous noise so that people with sight loss know they are coming, as well as applying limits on their weight and speed.

Alok said:

I appreciate that people with disabilities, especially those who are blind and visually impaired, can be more greatly affected by some of the negative impacts of electric scooter use. It is important that our streets are as accessible as possible, and I welcome that the Department for Transport has carried out a preliminary assessment of the impacts of e-scooters on blind people. I want to thank Guide Dogs for campaigning on this important issue.”

Chris Theobald, Senior Policy, Public Affairs and Campaigns Manager for Guide Dogs, said:

“We have seen alarming reports of unsafe and anti-social behaviour, pedestrians injured in collisions, and illegal private e-scooter use increasing. 68% of guide dog owners have told us that e-scooters reduce their confidence to leave the house. It’s essential that pavements are kept clear and safe. That’s why we’re asking for better enforcement, controls on sales, and safety features if they are to be legalised.”