A government backed trial to look at the best approach to legalising the use of e-scooters will get underway in Coventry this month.
The Government originally planned to run the trial in some cities in 2021. But due to the impact of Covid-19 social distancing measures and an increase in active travel it has amended legislation to legalise the use of e-scooters – under controlled conditions – as part of a rental scheme.
The use of privately-owned e-scooters remains illegal on public roads and footways but not on private land, despite the increase in the numbers of people purchasing the scooter.
In Coventry the first rental e-scooters will be trialled in the city centre, Coventry University campus and at the University of Warwick.
Voi, which originated in Sweden, has been chosen to be the single operator across the West Midlands for the rental scheme. It has won contracts to operate in other UK towns and cities including Cambridge, Peterborough and Northampton.
In Coventry the first e-scooters will be available by the middle of September. The initial fleet size in Coventry will be 500 e-scooters, potentially rising to 3,000 by the end of the trial period.
A charge will be made for each journey, with free rides for key workers, discounts of 75 per cent for users from low income groups, and a maximum charge of £12 per day for “turn up and go” journeys. Weekly and monthly season tickets will also be available.
Voi will fund all the necessary infrastructure, such as docking stations, and will also meet all costs incurred by local authorities for items such as signage, road markings, and changes to Traffic Regulation Orders. There will be no cost to the City Council from the scheme.
It is claimed that around 120 new jobs will be created across the West Midlands.
Electric vans and e-cargo bikes will be used by the operating staff to retrieve e-scooters, to change batteries, and generally travel around the area of operations.
All users will require a provisional or full driving licence and need to be aged 16 years or over. Training will be provided, and users will be encouraged to wear a cycle helmet which will be provided for free when people sign up to a long-term rental.
Voi has partnered with Coventry University, on a range of research projects including a £5 million innovation programme aimed at developing, designing and manufacturing new products in the West Midlands.
The e-scooters are battery operated and will be restricted to a maximum speed of 15 mph. The geo-fencing technology will allow the maximum speed to be reduced to 4-6 mph in areas where pedestrian activity is likely to be higher, as well as preventing use of the e-scooters on footways and in pedestrianised areas.
This story is based on a Coventry City Council Press Release