E-scooters will be available across the city as part of a 6-month trial
Author: Katie CallaghanPublished 16th Mar 2021
A controversial electric scooter scheme that has launched in Portsmouth today (16/03/21) will be closely monitored, with the option to enforce extra speed and location restrictions.
The city council’s transport boss, Councillor Lynne Stagg, approved the six-month e-scooter rental trial during a meeting in February 2021.
Run by Voi Scooters, the pilot will launch with up to 100 scooters provided at around 25 docking stations, with NHS and emergency service workers set to get free use during lockdown.
At the meeting representatives from Voi explained that scooters will be limited to 10 miles per hour during the first month, and the council will be able to create and adapt specific ‘no-go’ and ‘go-slow’ areas around Portsmouth using geo-fencing technology.
Council officer Richard Lancaster said:
“We are still developing no-go and go-slow areas. We are looking at Commercial Road and Palmerston Road North, they will be no-go zones and the e-scooters won’t be allowed to go in those particular areas.”
The scheme – that will run until November this year – comes as a wider trial across the Solent, with a pilot already rolled out on the Isle of Wight.
A similar scheme will also launch in Southampton on Thursday 18th March 2021.
Cllr Steve Leggett, Cabinet member for Green City and Place for Southampton City Council, said:
“We welcome the trial of rental e-scooters which will help to keep the city moving as we start to emerge from the pandemic in the Spring, while also supporting our Green City Plan to tackle climate change by offering greener and healthier alternatives to the car. Crucially, rental e-scooters will also offer a unique way to get our visitors and residents more active.”
Unlike private e-scooters, which are illegal to use on roads, all the rentals will be limited to speeds of 15.5 miles per hour, will have indicators and will use geo-fencing to ensure they are only used on certain roads.
Speaking at the last meeting, Cllr Stagg said:
“I am hoping this trial will lead to government legislation on private scooters. I think the actual scooters themselves are a wonderful way of getting cars off the road and getting from A to B.”
Opposition spokesman for transport, Cllr Simon Bosher, added:
“My concerns are around engagement with the police, and that’s not necessarily from Voi and the city council – it looks like there’s already a good relationship there – it’s more to do with the unregulated illegal scooters.”
Councillors and Voi representatives have agreed to report back on the trial a couple of months down the line.
Potential locations for the docking stations include QA Hospital, St Mary’s Hospital, Southsea promenade, Gunwharf Quays, North End, Drayton, and Paulsgrove among others.
The scheme will be paid for by a slice of a £900,000 fund from the Solent Transport Zone.
Rental e-scooters offer a socially distanced, outdoor mode of transport, particularly relevant while social distancing measures remain in place.
They also provide a convenient and accessible mode of transport, ideal for journeys from 1-3 miles or the first and last mile of public transport, reducing the number of short car journeys and consequently improving air quality.
To rent a Voi e-scooter users must be over 18 and hold a provisional or full driving licence, and users are strongly encouraged to wear helmets.
Rental e-scooters can ride on the same road spaces as bikes, including cycle lanes. The rental e-scooters being used in the trial include unique identification plates and are equipped with bright lights and reflectors for increased visibility.
Privately-owned, unregulated e-scooters will not be included in the trial and remain illegal, except on private land.
Voi have said:
Safety is a top priority for Voi and both cities. E-scooters are a new mode of transport, and Voi will work alongside the councils to educate riders through online and offline educational campaigns. Riders will also be encouraged to complete Voi’s digital e-scooter traffic school #RideLikeVoila, the world’s first certified digital traffic school, which has trained over half a million riders so far.
Richard Corbett, Regional General Manager of UK, Ireland and Benelux for Voi, said:
“We look forward to continuing to work with Portsmouth and Southampton City Councils to bring our rental e-scooter scheme to the region later this month. E-scooters are a safe, flexible and affordable way for people to commute or move around. These green active modes of transport can easily be integrated with public transport, replacing short car journeys, ultimately creating better places to work and live.”
Voi is also committed to upholding the local authorities’ health and safety policy and providing riders with safety and COVID-19 information and advice via the app.
To make sure the fleet is safe, Voi is frequently cleaning and disinfecting the fleet, while the scooters are fitted with handlebars made of a material that inhibits the transmission of viruses and bacteria, thus offering antibacterial, bactericidal and antiviral protection.
Ahead of the trial, Voi, Portsmouth and Southampton City Councils will continue to work closely to listen and address any local population’s safety concerns, especially vulnerable groups. Close planning and collaboration with the local police force will go a long way to ensuring the trial’s safety.
Both council’s welcome feedback from the public and stakeholders throughout the trial.