I dtús báire ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghabháil leat a Chathaoirleach agus Baill an Choiste ar son Zipp Mobility as cuireadh a thabhairt dom teacht anseo inniu agus roinnt libh ár dtuairimí ar an mBille um Thrácht ar Bhóithre agus um Bóithre 2021 go háirithe maidir le cúrsaí scútar leictreach.
Our company, Zipp Mobility, is Ireland’s leading shared micromobility provider, and we strongly support the efforts being made to legislate for the use of e-scooters in Ireland. We currently provide shared e-scooter and e-bike solutions to cities and towns across Ireland, the UK and mainland Europe. We are an Enterprise Ireland client company and have been awarded High Potential Startup status. Since our founding in 2019, we have grown to a team of 25 people and hope to create 50 more high-paying, skilled jobs in Ireland over the next 18 months. At Zipp we believe in “mobility done right”. This means it is our mission to do everything we can to help decarbonize transport, but it must be done in a principled way that respects the needs of the entire community.
Before we discuss electric scooters, I think it would be worth giving context to this conversation by reviewing Ireland’s transport-related greenhouse gas emissions. Transport is the second largest contributor to Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to this, the transport sector has been Ireland’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions since 1990, with transport emissions doubling in that time. And when you break this down further, it is clear that private car usage is the leading cause of transport emissions, contributing to nearly 50% of total transport emissions in some years and consistently being over twice the size of the next largest emissions category.
Ireland has set the ambitious goal of reducing its emissions by 51% by 2030 and getting to net zero by 2050. This means we need a 7% reduction in emissions per annum for the next 8 years. In 2020, despite Covid restrictions and an economic slowdown our emissions only went down by 3.6%. I believe this illustrates how great of a task we have at hand here. We must achieve twice the reduction brought on by a global pandemic and repeat that year-on-year for eight consecutive years while also trying to grow our economy and fix the housing crisis, among other policy goals.
To achieve this, it is vital that we consider every solution possible, and therefore e-scooters must be a part of the conversation when it comes to decarbonizing transport. We need to make it easier for people to make more sustainable transport choices. This can start with our urban areas where over 60% of our population lives. By giving people safe and sustainable transport options like e-scooters we can achieve these goals. E-scooters could be transformational for reducing our reliance on private cars. If you’re a young person and you can’t afford a car then getting an e-scooter could be a safe, sustainable and affordable alternative. Scooters could also vastly increase the number of people who use public transport. If you’d like to use public transport more but you live too far away from the nearest bus or train link then shared e-scooters could solve that problem because that 30 minute walk becomes an 8 minute scooter journey and suddenly using public transport becomes a lot more attractive. It is also important to remember that shared e-scooters are not just restricted to cities like Cork and Dublin. We operate a shared e-scooter service in the English village of Princes Risborough with a population of less than 10,000 people. This mode can work for suburban and rural communities too.
Other countries’ experience with e-scooters shows that e-scooters can be legislated for in a way that achieves the dual goals of safety and sustainability. There is a balance that is required here. On the one hand you want to reduce the barriers of entry for someone using an e-scooter to maximize modal shift away from less sustainable modes of transport. However, the vehicles must also meet rigorous safety standards and users must obey the rules of the road. As one of the last developed countries in the world to enact e-scooter legislation, we can take this as an opportunity to cherry-pick best practices from other jurisdictions and create a world-class legislative framework for e-scooters that works for everyone.
Shared e-scooter services give cities and towns a great deal of control over how these vehicles interact with the public realm. Local authorities get a say in what types of vehicles are introduced on the streets, how the operators must interact with the community and they can enforce operating restrictions as they see fit. This control gives us the ability to introduce scooters to cities and towns in a community-centric way, in order to build consensus around their introduction. Zipp actively consults with members of the visually impaired and disabled communities and their representative bodies and we are committed to ensuring that when our service rolls out in Ireland, it is one that respects the needs of this community. We will engage groups such as the NCBI, the IWA and the Guide Dogs, pre-launch and post-launch of our service in a way that gives them a meaningful say in the operations of Ireland’s shared e scooter services. We can address their concerns through targeted speed reductions in certain areas, enforcing mandatory parking zones, providing effective safety communications and by taking a tough stance on misuse, among other initiatives.
Chair and members of the committee, I would like to thank you once again for inviting me here today to speak with you. I hope to give you our views on e-scooters as a representative from the shared micromobility industry, but also as a young Irish person, I hope to communicate to you how passionate we are about ensuring Ireland becomes a world leader in climate action. Legislating for e-scooters may seem like a small step but with a task this big ahead of us, it is not about the silver bullet solutions, it will be about the myriad of small steps that we take as a nation, together, in our quest to conquer the greatest problem of our age — climate change.
Joint Committee on Transport and Communications: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/committees/33/transport-and-communications/