I did a piece on the E-Skoot for The Sunday Independent recently and they did a little re-writing in the process. Normally, as Hall and Oates once said “I can’t go for that, no can do”, but this time I decided to let it go.
The word they wanted to insert was ‘eccentric’ – as in, if you didn’t mind driving this E-Skoot thing around “looking a bit eccentric”, then the scooter was fine. “Eccentric” has not been my experience though.
People have been fascinated, curious or intrigued, but I don’t think they thought of me as an ‘eccentric’. And then again, maybe that’s the main delusion of an eccentric – they don’t think they are in any way unusual!
I think of myself as similar to the first users of the ‘Penny-Farthing’ bike as portrayed in movies. You know the scene – the mad inventor takes out his Penny-Farthing (or whatever device that no-one has seen before) and literally scares the horses!
But mainly I think of myself as an early adopter. This form of transport is going to take off massively, in my opinion, and there will come a time when I mention that I was riding an E-Skoot in 2015 and people will say, “Oh Yeah?” in a bored tone, “they can’t have been great back then”.
It is the curse of the early adopter to have to pull out their phone to demonstrate what practical application it can have to the predictable “Oohs” and “Aahs”. It is their destiny to ridiculed when they suggest that ‘someday we will have a computer that will fit on a desk’.
Now, my real place in the hierarchy of technology adopters is somewhere more in the ‘early majority‘. As a rule, I am not the first one in my company of friends or colleagues to have the first I-Phone or I-Pad or whatever gadget it is. And I wouldn’t be E-Skooting around the place if it was just down to me.
I happened to get to try out the E-Skoot out of coincidence and luck, which is why I’m a little bit ahead of the curve on this particular technology leap. And that can be a lonely (albeit fun) place to be for a while.
Take for example the legal issues – some of which we outlined here. There are no laws (except by implication) that describe the behavior one should adopt when riding the E-Skoot. It would seem that there is no need for tax and insurance, for example, because the E-Skoot is not a completely self-propelled vehicle. You need to push off on the E-Skoot to get it going, and therefore, it is not ‘self-propelled’.
But, of course, I can’t be sure of that because there is no law written down anywhere on E-Skoots. If there comes a time when a Garda stops me, for whatever reason, he or she will have to apply law as it applies to a bicycle. If, for example, I were to break a red light or crash into something, then a Garda would have to do something, and I presume most would attempt to apply the law to scooters as it applies to bikes.
Again, I can’t know or predict what they might do. And this will be a problem for ‘early adopter’ E-Skoot enthusiasts – there is a clear lack of clarity on the law. I could be charged, for example, with driving a vehicle without proper insurance, should a Garda want to throw the book at me. As I discussed earlier, I don’t see how this could stick, but you never know.
Plus, I think there is a good chance that if I were charged with a bicycle offence under the new €40 fixed charge law, I would be exempt. That law clearly states that a person who commits the offence must be a ‘cyclist’ on a ‘pedal cycle’, which I’m obviously not. Gardai can do what they like, but a judge is not going to convict someone of an offence if it falls outside the statute under which they were charged.
Still, that would be a lot of bother. And even if I was acquitted, a different Garda could summons me on the way back from court – forcing me to go through the whole ordeal again.
So the real answer to this question won’t happen until there is a critical mass of E-Skooters traveling around Dublin and there a demand for them to be legislated in some way. And that seems a long way off.
In the meantime, I plan to obey the rules of the road as best I can interpret them. That means operating ‘as if’ I were riding a bike. That means wearing a helmet and lighting up at night. It means not breaking red lights as is the law here for cyclists – though the French have decided to go in the completely opposite direction on that issue.
It’s the only logical, reasonable approach I think I can take, given the nebulous nature of the law.
I have spent a lot of time on the phone with the Gardai trying to figure out which laws would apply. Both myself and the Garda on the other end of the phone could come up with nothing. There’s no real law relating to E-Skooters, so there is no law to break. Ahem.
Regarding the ‘eccentric’ nature of E-Skooting, I suppose that will remain until they become more common. Which will bring laws, and regulations, and possibly restrictions.
Having to operate without regulations and restrictions is not such a high price to pay for being an eccentric.
You can find out more about the E-Skoot or purchase one at www.e-skoot.com