An e-scooter rental scheme started today (29 October) in Bristol and Bath as part of a 12-month trial.
Over the next year residents and visitors will be able to hire them for their commute to work or for travelling around the cities.
It is also hoped the new carbon-neutral e-scooters will take pressure off public transport, helping people travel in a socially-distanced way and leave their cars behind.
Operator, Voi, will create more than 60 jobs in the region during the trial, which is being led by WECA in partnership with Bristol, Bath & North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire councils.
West of England Mayor Tim Bowles said: “With social distancing in place on public transport, our e-scooter trial is a chance for us to try a new, low carbon way to get our region moving, particularly up and down the big hills we have both Bristol and Bath.
“Alongside metrobus, our transformational MetroWest rail network and plans for a regional mass transit, we’re making it easier to get to the jobs and training opportunities that will secure our recovery.”
Initially, there will be 100 Voi scooters available to hire in Bristol and 50 in Bath – with more set to be introduced over time.
E-scooters will be available to unlock for £1 and cost 20p per minute. There are also a variety of subscriptions available, 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.
Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, said: “E-scooters are a great way to travel and will provide a low-emission option in Bristol, alongside our improvements to buses and walking and cycling routes across the city and plans for a mass transit system.
“These options are more important than ever during the pandemic with reduced capacity on public transport, and will contribute to a more sustainable and connected future for Bristol.
“We made proposals to government more than two years ago to trial e-scooters in Bristol and we are delighted that this is now happening. We welcome the investment and jobs that Voi are bringing to the city and we are working closely with them to ensure e-scooters are used responsibly and safely.”
WECA and Voi will continue to work closely with 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.
They will also be working with Avon and Somerset Police to make sure the e-scooters are used responsibly.
The following rules apply for the e-scooter trials:
- Privately owned e-scooters remain illegal to use on roads, pavements, parks and any other areas. They can only be used legally on private land with the permission of the landowner.
- Only e-scooters 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 of authorised trial e-scooters must hold a full or provisional driving licence.
- In line with the Department for Transport’s guidance, it is recommended a cycle helmet is worn when using an e-scooter.
The trial will introduce several safety measures including:
- Initially, scooters will not exceed 10mph – 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.
- When a user travels out 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.
- Voi ambassadors will be present on the streets to enforce safe behaviour.
- 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.
During the trial, Voi will hold weekly safety pop-up events where ambassadors will be on hand to answer any questions about how to use the scooters safely.
They will also be handing out free helmets for riders to use on their journeys. All new riders are encouraged to complete Voi’s digital e-scooter traffic school via the link #RideLikeVoila.
Riders can download the Voi app for free in the Apple App Store or Google Play. For more information on the e-scooter trials visit: https://www.voiscooters.com or https://travelwest.info/projects/e-scooter-trial