Weston in Bath – including the RUH – and several Bristol districts are among the new areas where residents will soon be able to use rental e-scooters to access essential work and services.
Following the successful launch of the West of England e-scooter trial, the trial area for the ‘hop-on hop-off’ e-scooters is expanding from Wednesday 24 March to include new areas including the Royal United Hospital in Bath and Southmead Hospital in Bristol.
New areas in the trial include:
- Emersons Green
- Staple Hill
- St George
- Upper Weston
- Lower Weston
While the lockdown is in place the e-scooter operator, Voi Technology, is offering free rides to NHS workers, emergency service personnel and the armed forces, providing these key workers with a green and socially distanced alternative to commute to and from work. Almost 1,600 riders have used the “Voi 4 Heroes” scheme – making a total of more than 21,500 rides.
Since the launch of the West of England e-scooter trial, in October 2020, there have been over 225,000 rides taken and almost 615,000 miles travelled.
Mayor of the West of England Tim Bowles said: “The West of England has really embraced our e-scooter trial and I’m pleased that many more people will now have a chance to benefit from this low-carbon alternative to the car for short journeys to access essential work and services.
“I’ve been particularly keen to expand the trial to include hospitals in the region. This means that more NHS staff have access to this new green form of transport and can take advantage during lockdown of the Voi for Heroes scheme that gives free rides to NHS workers. E-scooters are part of our transport plans for the region alongside metrobus, MetroWest rail network and plans for regional mass transit, to make it easier to get to the jobs and training opportunities that will secure our recovery.”
Councillor Dine Romero, Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “The E-scooters have proved to be a popular mode of travel in Bath, offering a more sustainable way to get around and I’m pleased to see the trial expanded to Weston. We’re working hard to create better connected, healthier communities by improving transport and the e-scooters provide a greener, cleaner option for residents.”
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “E-scooters are a great way to travel and I’m delighted that they are proving so popular in the region and that they will now be available to more people in and around Bristol. It is particularly important that we are providing another low-emission alternative to short car journeys while public transport capacity is reduced for social distancing, and it’s great to see the trial extended to include the hospitals as well as providing free rides for many NHS and key workers. I encourage everyone to get involved with this trial that we lobbied for, to help us to deliver clean air alongside our improvements to bus, walking and cycling journeys across the city and plans for a mass transit public transport system.”
Councillor Steve Reade, South Gloucestershire Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Environment and Strategic Infrastructure, said: “The continued expansion of the e-scooter trial is enabling more people to consider greener travel options, especially as schools and businesses begin reopen. If we are to achieve our Climate Emergency goals, we all need to look for low-carbon alternatives, especially for those local journeys.
“The e-scooter trial provides another option for the people who want to help reduce congestion and emissions, improve air quality and keep South Gloucestershire moving.”
Richard Corbett, Regional General Manager of UK, Ireland and Benelux for Voi, said: “E-scooters offer a flexible, accessible, outdoors and socially-distanced mode of transport, particularly useful for short journeys from 1-3 miles. We have seen thousands of residents in the region using them for their essential journeys. As we expand into new areas, we will continue to work closely with the West of England Combined Authority to ensure the safety and success of the trial.”
E-scooters are available to unlock for £0.99 and cost 14p per minute. There are also various discounts available and passes for students, key workers, and those on low-incomes.
To unlock an e-scooter, riders can download the Voi app, (available for free on iOS and Android), they must be 18 years old or over and have a valid UK driving licence (full or provisional). Safety measures to protect riders against Covid-19 include equipping all handlebars with anti-bacterial copper tape and ensuring the vehicles are regularly disinfected. Users are also encouraged to where cycle helmets.
The West of England Combined Authority has also recently introduced long-term e-scooter rentals that can be stored at home and used by residents across the whole of Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire giving unlimited access to cost-effective and socially distanced transport, within the entire geofenced WECA area. For more information visit the Travelwest page: https://travelwest.info/projects/e-scooter-trial.
The following rules and safety measures apply for the e-scooter trials:
- Only e-scooters that are 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.
- Using GPS technology, there will be no-ride zones and slow-speed zones for some areas.
- 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.
- Privately owned e-scooters remain illegal to use on roads, pavements, parks and any other areas. The only place that privately owned e-scooters can legally be used is on private land with the permission of the landowner.
The trial forms part of the West of England’s £28m plans for a Future Transport Zone in the region that will improve access to public transport for local communities through trialling innovative new transport technologies.
To view the expanded boundary, visit the Voi app. Download here: https://www.voiscooters.com/