E-SCOOTERS in York have been fit with a new safety sound system as part of a trial to support blind and partially sighted pedestrians.

TIER began trialling its Acoustic Vehicle Alert System (AVAS) on e-scooters in the city this week.

The system emits a sound from the e-scooter which has been developed to improve road safety for blind and partially sighted pedestrians when interacting with shared e-scooter riders.

Jessica Murphy, head of public policy for the UK at TIER, said: “The e-scooter acoustic alert has been the product of nearly two years of development and real-world testing. We are thrilled to be able to bring this next phase of the trial to York and we really value any feedback our users are willing to share with us of their experience with the sound. 

“Safety is our highest priority and that extends to ensure vulnerable pedestrians and road users feel comfortable interacting with our service. AVAS is a major part in ensuring shared e-scooters do not negatively impact the daily lives and independence of blind and visually impaired people.”

TIER has funded the development of the sound which has been developed with Anderson Acoustics, who helped develop the Transport for London (TfL) Urban Bus Sound as well as UCL’s PEARL facility. The work is supported by TfL, its Independent Disability Advisory Group and charities including the Thomas Pocklington Trust.

The system has been fitted to five e-scooters which will be available for the public to rent as part of TIER’s York fleet. The e-scooters have been upfitted with TIER’s updated ‘Parrot’ computing module, enabling the e-scooter to adjust the pitch and volume of the sound as the e-scooter’s speed increases or decreases. 

The sound has been designed to be audible in busy environments and gives more vulnerable road users an improved amount of information about the e-scooters position, speed and direction.

Volunteers from Sight Loss Councils across the UK, all with lived experience of sight loss, have informed the development of this universal sound. Sight Loss Councils, funded by Thomas Pocklington Trust, are led by blind and partially sighted (BPS) volunteers who work with businesses and services to ensure what they do is accessible and inclusive.

Iain Mitchell, senior engagement manager for Sight Loss Councils, said: “North Yorkshire Sight Loss Council is delighted to welcome the AVAS pilot to York. We want to thank TIER for their commitment over the last three years to deliver a product that can now be heard on our streets. 

“This development in e-scooter safety is groundbreaking. Sight Loss Councils’ across the country would like to see other operators also adopt this technology to ensure the safety of all blind and partially sighted pedestrians.”