The company running a pilot scheme which has seen Bristol flooded with electric scooters for hire has promised to do better to stop dozens of them blocking pavements in the city.
Voi Technologies reacted after complaints began to mount up that users of its e-scooter scheme were leaving them in large numbers in spots around Bristol.
In one case, 27 were left in a spot in Clifton, and 17 in a small area of pavement in Bedminster.
People representing the blind, the elderly and mums with buggies have complained to Voi Technologies, saying the increasing use of the scooters and the way they are parked has to be sorted out if the pilot scheme in Bristol is to be made permanent.
The scheme sees people hire an electric scooter for anything from a few minutes to a month at a time, but when not in use they have no docking station and Voi tells users to leave them in designated ‘parking zones’, which are often just wide pavements, at bus stops or street corners where someone from Voi has decided there is enough space for them to be left without getting in anyone’s way.
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However, because the scooters can only be left in those parking zones, and Voi has recently increased the number of machines in the city and widened the area they can be used, the parking zones often end up overflowing.
One twitter user described how she had complained several times that a parking area at the junction of Royal York Crescent in Clifton Village was supposed to have five e-scooters, but regularly had as many as 25 to 30 scooters left there. “Voi should be stopped with their trial, as they seem unable or unwilling to make sure access for all is maintained,” she said.
Green Party city councillor Carla Denyer said she had raised concerns that Voi’s scheme was directing people to park their e-scooters at designated cycle racks, and then overflowing to block pavements.
“We were told by Bristol City Council that Voi parking zones wouldn’t block cycle racks, but it’s evidently not true,” she said.
“I’m fed up with repeatedly reporting obstructions. (It’s) not isolated cases, you must have told your users this is the right place to park,” she told Voi. “Please change this,” adding that she thought the best solution was for the e-scooters to take over on-street parking spaces – with 30 or more scooters able to fit in the space that would normally be taken up by one car.
Voi said it would look into the issues raised by people all over the city.
“Safety is our top priority,” a spokesperson said. “Parking scooters in a way that blocks the pavement are strictly against our user agreement. We have Voi ambassadors in all cities to monitor the streets to report anti-social behaviour, as well as correct poorly-parked scooters.
“We assure you that we don’t want our scooters parked like this either, and are working to improve this.
“One of our priorities is to make sure the scooters are parked correctly, according to local laws and our terms and conditions. We are also working on putting parking racks in several cities where you can place the scooters neatly in the racks.
“We really apologise for any inconveniences caused by our scooters,” she added.
A spokesperson for Bristol City Council said it was also aware of the issue.
“Voi can issue warnings to users who do not follow the rules and remove the accounts of persistent offenders,” she said.
“The Council does not have powers to enforce traffic offences as that is the police’s responsibility.
“We are working with Voi to improve the messaging riders get about responsible road use & parking, & to develop a better system for people to report any issues. Issues can be currently be reported, ideally with a photo and/or the scooter’s registration number,” she added.