Published Wednesday, 09 September 2020
A government backed trial to look at the best approach to legalising the use of e-scooters will get underway in Coventry in September.
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.
Cllr Patricia Hetherton, Cabinet Member for City Services, said: “It’s important we understand the safest way that people can use e-scooters as currently their use is illegal.
“There is an opportunity to look at the results of the trial so that decisive action can be taken to identify the safest way that e-scooters can be used going forward.
“I’m keen to see how we can ensure that vulnerable pedestrians are not put at risk by the careless behaviour of a minority of e-scooter riders.”
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.
Cllr Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration added: “More people are cycling and walking due to impact of social distancing and that includes an increase in e-scooter users.
“So, it is important to look at the safety of this form of transport. We need to ensure that legislation is proportionate to the type of travel choices people make so it’s important that we can work on the findings from the trial.
“The rental scheme that forms part of the trial gives people the opportunity to try out the e-scooters whether for leisure, to travel to study or for work in a controlled situation. It’s also important that the rental scheme offers a reduced rate for people on a low income.”
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.
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.