Left to right: Lucy Yu (Voi Technology), Tim Bowles (Bath Mayor) and Dine Romero (Leader of Bath and NE Somerset Council).
It is a truth universally acknowledged that anyone who values environmentally friendly, socially distant, efficient travel must be in want of a Voi e-scooter. We don’t think Jane Austen, Bath’s most famous resident, would have minded if we paraphrased Pride and Prejudice’s opening line for this occasion: today, Bristol and Bath begin their 12-month e-scooter trials with Voi!
Initially, the trial areas will encompass Bath and Bristol’s city centres, with 50 scooters in Bath and 100 in Bristol. (The area and number of scooters will increase as the trial progresses.) Residents and visitors alike can hop on a scooter to commute, run errands, explore the cities, or just have fun and enjoy the outdoors. Voi will also create more than 60 jobs in the region during the trial, which is being led by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) in partnership with Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire Councils.
Did you know that Bristol was the first British city to be named European Green Capital? This award celebrates innovative responses to urban environmental challenges, so it’s no surprise that Bristol has embraced e-scooters. Voi’s carbon-neutral e-scooters take the pressure off public transport, helping people to leave their cars behind. In fact, based on a forecasted 2,400 scooter fleet, 12 to 16% car replacement rate and expected utilisation rates, we hope to save 88 to 196 tonnes CO2 eq. in the West of England over the course of the trial.
We’re also committed to ensuring that scooters are accessible across the population. E-scooters will be available to unlock for £1 and cost 20p per minute. There are also a variety of subscriptions available (daily, weekly, and monthly), as well as discounted passes for students, key workers, and those on low-incomes. To ride a Voi e-scooter, a user must have a provisional driving licence and be at least 18 years of age. Riders can download the Voi app for free in the Apple App Store or Google Play.
As always, safety comes first — for e-scooter users and everyone else who shares the roads. WECA and Voi will work closely with the local police forces, as well as groups representing vulnerable road users, including the RNIB, Age UK and Disabilities Move UK, to ensure the needs of vulnerable groups are carefully considered during the trial. During the trial, we’ll hold weekly safety pop-up events, where on-the-ground ambassadors will answer questions about how to use the scooters safely and give away free helmets for riders to use on their journeys. All new riders are encouraged to complete Voi’s digital e-scooter traffic school, RideLikeVoila.
So how do you ride Voi e-scooters safely in the West of England? Follow our tips:
- Privately owned e-scooters remain illegal to use on roads, pavements, parks, and any other areas. The only place that privately owned e-scooters can legally be used is on private land with the permission of the landowner.
- Only e-scooters that are hired or leased through the West of England’s trial can be used legally on roads, cycle lanes, or cycle tracks.
- E-scooters cannot be used on pavements or parked in a way that disrupts pedestrians or causes nuisance.
- E-scooters are classed as motorised vehicles and riders must hold a full or provisional driving licence.
- In line with the Department for Transport’s guidance, a helmet is recommended when using an e-scooter.
The trial will introduce several safety measures which exceed the U.K. government’s requirements, including:
- Initially, scooters will not exceed 10 mph and will be slower in some areas until people get used to them.
- Using GPS technology, there will be no-ride zones and slow-speed zones for some areas.
- If a user rides outside of the operational zone, they will be blocked, and the e-scooter will slow and stop.
- All e-scooters will have clear number plates to help identify riders.
- Driving licence and identity checks will be required.
- Ambassadors will work with Avon and Somerset Police to restrict or ban non-compliant users.
- Scooters will feature copper tape on the handlebars, which reduces the risk of contamination by viruses and bacteria.
- All scooters will be disinfected every 24 hours, and Voi will provide COVID-19 advice and information via the Voi app.
Thanks for welcoming us on your Voiage, West of England!