Scooters may be the next EV to get a universal warning noise

Researchers in the UK are working with companies like Lime to develop the first universal warning noise for electric scooters.

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - August 15, 2021: Electric scooters parked on pavement is Stockholm, Sweden.  The...
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For those of us who live in areas where electric scooters run rampant, errant riders — on the sidewalk and otherwise — are an unfortunate reality. Because the small vehicles are almost dead silent while in use, collisions are becoming a more regular occurrence especially among riders and sightless pedestrians. Given the rise of said scooters, researchers have concluded that now might be the time to adopt an official warning sound for all of major e-scooter, ride-sharing companies, including players like Lime.

That means a world with noisier scooters may in fact be on its way — as the Guardian first reported, researchers are working with firms in the UK to develop “a universal sound for the otherwise near-silent vehicles.”

Specifically, researchers are aiming to identify a universal noise that would still be recognizable amid a cacophonous cityscape. Research will be conducted at the University College London (UCL) and three e-scooter firms will be providing input: Dott, Lime, and Tier. The noises will be “ethically tested” at UCL’s Person-Environment-Activity Research Lab.

Micromobility— Perhaps a big contributing factor to e-scooter collisions, outside of the e-vehicles themselves, is the use of unlicensed or private scooters. Outside of the major scooter-sharing companies, there are plenty of individual firms making scooters that are more robust than their generic counterparts.

Look no further than the Apollo Ghost, a scooter we tested firsthand, that can reach speeds of up to 34 mph. Even though scooters like the Ghost are technically not allowed on sidewalks, that doesn’t always stop riders from doing so. As Techrader has pointed out, there were “300 recorded injuries caused by collisions with private scooters in 2021 alone.”

The existence of a mandated warning sound is already in place for electric vehicles, which dictates they “emit a warning sound when moving at speeds less than 18.5 mph.” There are no such regulations for scooters yet and Joanna Wooten, the chair of transport for London’s independent disability advisory group, has described the development of a universal warning sound for scooters, as “breaking new ground where there are currently no standards in place.”