TIER has made news for its design-forward e-scooters and scooter-share concepts, including safety enhancements and a community battery-swapping approach that enlists local shops and cafes, helping their businesses grow.
Established as a climate-neutral, international leader and already profitable, TIER has deployed 60,000 e-scooters across 80 cities in ten countries. The new funding of $250 million, led by SoftBank, supports TIER’s goal of “seamless and sustainable mobility,” says Lawrence Leuschner, CEO and cofounder.
The company made news by announcing their smart protections for blind and visually impaired people.
The leading European micro-mobility operator, has committed to adding sound to its vehicles to alert blind and partially sighted people of their approach. The company has partnered with national charity Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT) and will be using new research from the organisation to design the feature and roll it out across its fleet in 2021.
There are more than two million people who are blind or partially sighted living in the UK* and the recent introduction of e-scooter trials has been met with caution by some, with concerns expressed about e-scooters being hard to detect when approaching. TIER hopes that by installing a sound in its vehicles, and calling on other operators to follow suit, it can raise safety standards and help to build confidence among visually impaired pedestrians when it comes to e-scooters being on the roads.
The sound will complement TIER’s existing technology, which slows vehicles to a halt in areas where riding is forbidden. Sight Loss Councils, funded by TPT and led by blind and partially sighted members, will be performing research and running focus groups across the UK to shape how the e-scooters should sound, when and where the sound should be used, and how visually impaired people can be educated on the feature.
Founded in 2018, TIER recently launched the York e-scooter trial and serves over 80 other cities globally across ten countries. The company has become renowned for its industry-leading approach to safety, offering a built-in helmet, indicator lights and a range of other game-changing features.
Fred Jones, TIER’s UK General Manager, said:
"E-scooters offer lots of benefits to UK cities, but they must be introduced in a considered way, working in harmony with local communities and accounting for the concerns of people with visual impairment.
At TIER, rather than just paying lip service to visually impaired people, we want to work with them to deliver real action to address their concerns. So we are thrilled to be working with Thomas Pocklington Trust to design and roll out a sound alert across our vehicles next year."
Charles Colquhoun, CEO at Thomas Pocklington Trust, said:
"We’re delighted TIER has engaged with us through the Sight Loss Councils and now has a deeper understanding and empathy of the concerns of blind and partially sighted people around e-scooters.
By introducing the audio alert systems TIER is directly responding to the concerns that the introduction of silent, heavy and fast e-scooters represents a real danger to blind and partially sighted people. It has also agreed to incorporate advice and guidance to promote vision awareness for e-scooter riders within its induction information for each e-scooter hire.
We understand the benefits of e-scooters as an environmentally friendly transport option, particularly for cities, but these must be safe so that our streets are accessible for all. So, we welcome these developments and are delighted to support TIER in introducing the audio systems to its e-scooters."