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Date posted: 28th January 2022
The announcement that three leading e-scooter operators are coming together to create a consistent audio vehicle alert system (AVAS) for e-scooters is welcomed by TPT and its Sight Loss Councils (SLC).
The charity sits on TIER’s UK and Ireland Safety Board, has campaigned for the introduction of AVAS and the SLCs conducted the research into how AVAS should sound.
The fast, silent and heavy micro-mobility vehicles represent a danger to blind and partially sighted pedestrians. As part of the #StreetsForAll campaign, TPT and SLCs have been calling for:
The latest news is welcomed by the charity. Mike Bell, National Public Affairs Lead at the Thomas Pocklington Trust said:
“It’s vital transport works for everyone, and is safe and inclusive for those with different needs. Introducing a clear, recognisable sound to e-scooters will help protect blind and partially sighted people and other potentially vulnerable road users by helping them to detect when a vehicle is approaching.
“We want to make sure this sound is effective in real city environments, and so we are thrilled to be working closely with UCL and TIER as it is developed and rolled out, to help make a real difference to visually impaired people in London and across the country.”
Read the full press release from TIER below:
UCL’s specialist Person-Environment-Activity Research Laboratory (PEARL), together with London’s e-scooter operators TIER, Lime and Dott, have today announced that they are partnering to research and develop a ‘universal sound’ for rental e-scooters to alert pedestrians and other roads users of their approach.
Building on existing work by all three operators, the sound will be developed in London, kicking off next month, in an approach endorsed by TfL. London’s e-scooter operators have the joint ambition of developing and trialling a universal sound that could help improve safety across the entire e-scooter industry, helping road users and particularly people with sight loss to identify a rental e-scooter regardless of its operator or make. Research is expected to produce a sound which can be tested by operators in London this year, attaining an industry standard and ultimately scaling up to other cities in the UK and beyond.
The joint initiative is an industry first and follows extended engagement with disability experts and access consultants, including Transport for All, Thomas Pocklington Trust and Royal National Institute of Blind people. The sound will take into account the needs of individuals including those with sight loss, hearing loss and neurodiverse conditions. It will be ethically tested at the PEARL research facility, which can create different city environments, before testing on the street, to ensure it works for individuals in real-world settings.
Professor Nick Tyler, Director, UCL PEARL said: “This is an exciting project to work on to ensure that people with a range of different capabilities can know when an e-scooter is nearby and how it is moving, enabling them to comfortably and safely move around the urban environment. Through studying how the human hearing system has evolved, we can create sounds for e-scooters that are detectable without adding more noise to the environment. We plan to test a range of combinations of sounds and environments at UCL PEARL with people who are less likely to detect e-scooters nearby, so that we create a sound that works for all. It is a huge scientific challenge, but one that will enable everyone to feel comfortable with this new form of micro-mobility that is quickly growing in popularity.”
Fred Jones, Vice President and Regional General Manager of TIER, said: “Safety is at the heart of everything we do at TIER, and so we are proud to have initiated and funded this project to develop an inclusive and effective sound for e-scooters. TIER will license the use of this sound for free to the benefit of other operators in our industry, and the residents of the cities in which they serve. Working with experts at UCL to develop an inclusive sound for e-scooters will be crucial to protecting pedestrians and road users potentially made vulnerable through the introduction of this new transport mode to the UK.
“We are really excited to collaborate with Lime and Dott on this initiative and to deliver an inclusive e-scooter service in London, but we don’t want to stop there. At TIER we believe the adoption of a universal sound for all e-scooters is crucial to our ambition of transforming cities around the world and raising safety standards across the whole e-scooter sector. That’s why we’re going to lead the charge for a universal sound for e-scooters, starting here in the UK.”
Duncan Robertson, UKI General Manager at Dott, said: “As we work to offer more sustainable transport for people to get around their cities, it’s crucial that we consider the needs of riders and non-riders alike. This project builds upon our existing research with the University of Salford to refine audible options and test in a virtual environment. By working with our partner operators, we are bringing together our collective insights to help find a solution which we hope will become consistent across the industry, and therefore as simple as possible for other road users and pedestrians to understand.”
Alan Clarke, Sr Director of Policy at Lime, said: “Lime is proud to be leading the way in developing e-scooter services which are safer, more accessible and better integrated with other users of urban space. This project builds on our existing work with Lime’s independent disability advisory board to research how audio-alerts can improve the safe integration of e-scooters into cities. As a business operating across five continents, Lime is uniquely placed to bring together work happening around the world to design e-scooter services which are more inclusive. We look forward to feeding outcomes from this project into that global effort, as well as here in the UK.”
Dr Antonio J Torija Martinez, Principal Investigator at the University of Salford’s ARC, said: “Sustainable and inclusive micro-mobility is in strategic alignment with the priorities of the University. We have developed a standalone system to generate sound signals according to the scooter’s operating conditions, such as vehicle speed, and investigated pedestrian awareness of an approaching scooter with a series of added warning sounds. The range of sounds generated so far can increase vehicle awareness, without compromising noise annoyance. Further funding has been secured from the University of Salford’s Innovation Strategy Fund to continue our research for developing warning sounds for an optimal balance between noticeability and annoyance.”
Joanna Wootten, Chair of TfL’s Independent Disability Advisory Group, said: “IDAG is really excited about the London operators’ methodical and collaborative approach to creating an audible sound for their e-scooters. They are breaking new ground where there are currently no standards or regulations in place. IDAG looks forward to working with them as the scheme progresses.”
Notes to Editors
Today’s announcement builds on existing commitments and work from London’s e-scooter operators. TIER has previously committed to add sound to their e-scooters to alert visually impaired people to their approach, following engagement with different groups including national sight loss charities through the TIER UK Safety Board. Dott has partnered with the University of Salford and developed and tested audible detection in collaboration with the RNIB. Dott continues to support the University of Salford’s research and looks forward to adding the findings to the work being undertaken by UCL. This is an exciting opportunity to bring together this work to develop an inclusive, scalable sound.
About UCL PEARL
PEARL is a part of the UK’s national research facility for infrastructure and cities, called the UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC), and is hosted by UCL as a multidisciplinary research facility.
PEARL’s vision is to create a better world for a future in which people and the environment can thrive together in a mutually beneficial, safe, equitable and healthy way. They aim to improve the quality of life, health and wellbeing of all within the context of a more sustainable environment.
About TIER Mobility
TIER Mobility is Europe’s leading provider of micro-mobility and on a mission to change mobility for good. Founded in 2018 and with its leadership team based in Berlin and London, TIER serves more than 170 cities in 18 countries across Europe and the Middle East. As part of its drive to make it easier for people to live without a private car, TIER offers e-scooters, e-bikes and e-mopeds among its growing suite of multimodal options, and integrates with over 40 different public transport providers.
TIER is climate-neutral and a UN 50 Climate Leader, and its CEO / co-founder has pledged to donate his entire stake in the business to sustainability causes from which he will not financially benefit. TIER has reached profitability and secured significant external funding to expand its unique Energy Network – which utilises British battery technology manufactured in Oxfordshire – into cities seeking to benefit from the air quality, high street and consumer benefits of rider-swappable batteries.
TIER’s investors include SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Mubadala Capital, Northzone, Goodwater Capital, White Star Capital and M&G Investments. For more information, visit www.tier.app.
Dott is a micromobility European operator founded by Henri Moissinac and Maxim Romain, with the mission to free our cities with clean rides for everyone. Dott currently operates over 40,000 e-scooters in top cities in Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Poland, Spain, the UK and has been launching a fleet of 10,000 e-bikes since Autumn 2021. Dott has won two of the biggest micromobility tenders in the world, in both Paris and in London. Dott has a staff of over 500, with its main teams located in Amsterdam, London and Paris.
Lime is the world’s largest provider of shared electric vehicles. Lime is on a mission to build a future where transportation is shared, affordable and carbon-free. Lime partners with cities to deploy electric bikes and scooters to provide car-alternatives for local travel. Named a Time100 Most Influential Company, Lime has powered more than 250 million rides in more than 200 cities across five continents, replacing more than an estimated 60 million car trips and saving more than 25,000 metric tons of carbon. Learn more at li.me.