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Electric scooters – affordable but risky

16 May 2023 By ANIRBAN RAY

Motorists view e-scooters warily due to these two-wheelers’ ability to zip in and out of traffic

Muscat – A new sight on Muscat’s roads is prompting many to do a double take – in awe as much as fear. Electric scooters – the new mode of transport in the city – have become increasingly popular and are used as an affordable and convenient mode of transport. But these can also be safety hazard for both motorists and scooterist themselves when the latter fail to follow road rules or don’t use protective gear.

Most vehicle drivers view e-scooters warily due to these two-wheelers’ limitless manoeuvrability and ability to zip in and out of traffic unhindered.

Alen, a Filipino resident who rides an e-scooter, said, “I find it very easy to go to work; I can avoid traffic jams and get to my destination quickly. E-scooters can be particularly useful in congested cities where traffic is heavy during rush hour.”

These are inexpensive to charge, easy to maintain and have fewer parts that can break down. “Besides convenience and affordability,” Allen said, “these are environmentally friendly. But they also come with risks, particularly when used on busy roads.”

Alen has a colleague, Maria, who also uses an e-scooter. “Earlier, I used to walk home from work for lunch under the scorching sun. It was exhausting. It took me around 20 minutes; it felt like such a waste of time. With the scooter, I can save time and my health.”

Maria counts the ease in parking scooters and their ability to enter narrow lanes easily as the biggest advantage.

Asked about safety concerns, Maria said she always makes sure to wear a helmet and doesn’t go to fast. She also encourages colleagues using e-scooters to wear helmets and drive at a safe speed.

However, taxi driver Ali al Habsi considers e-scooters a safety hazard. “Unfortunately, the use of electric scooters has spread quickly on public roads. Riders often break traffic rules.”

According to safety expert Sultan al Rawahi, many e-scooter riders also carry heavy loads. “Riders should follow safety measures such as wearing hardhats, knee pads and a high-visibility jacket. Additionally, they should not drive on public roads to avoid serious accidents. We hope concerned authorities will provide special tracks for them to ride, like in European countries.”

Mohammad Nabi, a Ruwi resident, recently saw three children ride an e-scooter on the main road in Mumtaz Area. “I was shocked and wanted to click a photograph to post on social media, just to create awareness on the matter. But I couldn’t as I was driving.”

An official at Royal Oman Police said, “We call on parents to urge their children to drive electric scooters in designated areas, and to adhere to traffic safety measures to avoid accidents.”

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