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No fast-tracking of rules on e-scooters for fear accidents would clog Covid hospitals

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E-scooters currently cannot be lawfully used on public roads

E-scooters currently cannot be lawfully used on public roads

E-scooters currently cannot be lawfully used on public roads

Workers hoping to commute on e-scooters won't get legal clarity on their use as the Government fears riders will suffer accidents and strain health services during the pandemic.

E-scooter suppliers are reporting a surge in sales and enquiries from people trying to plan a way to get to work without using public transport.

However, there is no specific law covering the use of e-scooters so they cannot lawfully be used in public places or on public roads, despite the fact that many people already do so.

Restrictions

Legislation was being drawn up to regularise the situation before February's general election but the issue has been in limbo since.

In response to a query as to whether regulations could be fast-tracked in light of the challenges for commuters posed by Covid-19, the Department of Transport said legislation was a matter for the new government to decide.

However, the department added: "In the current context, in several jurisdictions it has been noted that there were significant increases in demand on accident and emergency medical facilities due to PPTs (powered personal transporters).

"This would not be advisable here given the ongoing demands on our health service due to the Covid-19 pandemic and so any change that may create such additional demands would also have to be subject to consideration from that wider public health viewpoint."

The department's stance will be frustrating for many people forced to make alternative transport arrangements as the gradual lifting of lockdown restrictions continues.

Dublin City Council and the National Transport Authority have warned that public transport in the city will only be able to carry 20pc of normal passenger numbers.

In a joint "return to work mobility plan" they said the number of people commuting on foot would have to double and the number cycling would have to triple to keep the city moving.

To provide safe spaces for pedestrians and cyclists, however, there would have to be restrictions on cars coming into the city.

Already some loading bays and on-street parking spaces have been removed to widen footpaths and create cycle lanes, and many more similar measures are planned.

A gradual pedestrianisation of College Green and other, as yet unidentified, areas of the city will also take place.

Pedestrians, cyclists and buses will also get priority at traffic lights, with cars left to wait longer. Altogether, the measures are expected to cut the city's capacity for cars by 30pc.

Fourteen key routes into the city are prioritised for additional bus and cycle lanes and other measures, and four distinct commuter belts are identified.

Those living in the first two, within 2km or 5km of the city centre, will be encouraged to walk or cycle, while those within 10km or further out will be urged to bus or bike.

Dublin City Council said other areas of the city and other proposals would be added to the plan in the coming weeks.

Some business organisations are concerned at the effect on trade of stopping people travelling by car. However, groups representing cyclists and pedestrians welcome the plans.

Martin Harte, of the Temple Bar Company, wants to take things a step further by seeking the pedestrianisation of the entire Temple Bar district.

"We want to make Temple Bar the safest place in Ireland, if not Europe, to socialise" he said.

"You can't tell people to stay two metres away from each other and have cars in that space."