Residents in the West of England can now hire e-scooters as part of a government trial.
Our region is the first area in the UK to offer residents both the Voi hop-on hop-off and the long-term rental options.
The trial is led by the West of England Combined Authority in partnership with Bath & North East Somerset Council, Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council.
The West of England is one of only four Future Transport Zones in the country, set up to trial new transport technologies to cut congestion, improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions.
E-scooters are classified as motorised vehicles and are subject to the same legal requirements as any motor vehicle – i.e. you must have a driving licence and insurance.
If you ride in an unsafe manner:
- Your account may be suspended;
- You may be reported to the police who may apply points to your driving licence and/or issue a fine.
- You must be at least 18 years old to ride a Voi e-scooter, and hold a full or provisional driving licence
- Do not allow others to use your Voi account or driving licence. You will be responsible for any misuse
- Never ride an e-scooter on the pavement
- Do not ride under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Only one person per e-scooter
When renting an e-scooter, users agree to park the vehicles with respect towards pedestrians, property and traffic, and to also ensure the following:
- The vehicle is parked on a footway closely alongside a wall or in connection to a bike stand/parking rack
- The vehicle is standing up in a steady manner on its kickstand
- The vehicle is not blocking entrances, access ramps, traffic, bus stops, crossings, or obstructing pavements.
Report an issue
If you encounter any issues with the e-scooter trial, such as the location of parked e-scooters, misplaced scooters, or inappropriate riding behaviour including underage riding (below the age of 18), you should report this to the operator.
Frequently asked questions
The Department for Transport is fast tracking e-scooter trials across the UK as part of work to relieve pressure on public transport whilst social distancing is required.
As one of four Future Transport Zones the West of England’s trial is part of wider plans to use innovative technologies to make it easier to get around the West of England by giving people alternatives to driving.
The 12-month trial will help understand any issues and challenges of legalising e-scooter use on the region’s roads. If successful they could become a permanent sustainable option for travel in the region.
The trial launched on 29 October 2020. The trial will continue for 12 months from this date.
Voi has been appointed as the e-scooter trial operator. Voi is the fastest-growing European micro-mobility operator and currently operates in 50+ cities in 11 countries.
The West of England trial will test two different models:
The hop-on hop-off (also known as free floating) model, is a pay as you go model where users can pick up an e-scooter from various locations across Bath and Bristol’s central areas as well as locations in Bristol’s North Fringe, including railway stations. We anticipate that people will use these e-scooters to make short trips, or to complete the last or first mile of a longer trip such as connecting with a train journey.
Long Term Rentals
We are also trialling a long term rental model where residents of Bristol City, Bath and North East Somerset, and South Gloucestershire are able to lease an e-scooter for longer periods of time for a monthly fee. Residents will be able to store their long-term rental e-scooter at home, in their workplace or locked to cycle stands as you would a bicycle, giving confidence that they can get to and from work and other destinations during times when bus and train capacity is limited.
The trial will last for 12 months and has been fast tracked in response to the Covid-19 pandemic to offer a new sustainable way to travel while social distancing is in place on public transport.
Usage and Safety
The West of England’s e-scooter trial covers the geographical areas of Bath and North East Somerset Council, Bristol City Council, and South Gloucestershire Council, so e-scooters hired or leased as part of the trial can be used across this region. North Somerset Council does not form part of the trial area.
The trial e-scooters can be rented by anyone over 18 with a full or provisional driving licence.
Only e-scooters hired or leased through the West of England trial can be used legally on public land.
Maps of the trial area, including parking, slow-ride, and no-ride zones, are all available in the Voi app. Please consult the Voi app for the most current information on the rideable areas.
Privately owned e-scooters are not part of the trial and remain illegal, except when used on private land with the permission of the landowner.
We have worked closely with our councils, police and operators to put in place measures to make this trial as successful as possible.
At the time of launching, e-scooter speeds were limited to between 3 to 10 mph, depending on the operating zone. The upper speed limit increased to 12.5mph following support from Voi, and Avon and Somerset Police that higher speeds would improve safety on busy roads for e-scooter users.
Geofencing technology allows slower speed restrictions to be imposed in defined areas which have been identified in collaboration with the police, the councils, the operator, and stakeholder groups including equalities groups, and continue to be refined.
E-scooters are classified as motorised vehicles. All users must register by providing their full or provisional driving licence. Users who commit road traffic offenses whilst using an e-scooter, including lending their licence to somebody else, could receive points on their driving licence, fines, and/or prosecution by the police.
We know that most people will use e-scooters responsibly and we will work with the operator and the police to address irresponsible use.
No. Only e-scooters which are leased or hired as part of a local authority trial which has been authorised by the Department for Transport are legal to use. The use of privately-owned e-scooters on public land remains illegal.
Retailers need to inform e-scooter customers of the restrictions on e-scooter use so that users remain within the law. Police and Trading Standards have sent a letter to retailers to remind them of their legal obligations
As with any motorised vehicle, users are subject to national legislation requiring them to drive responsibly, and legally. Users may receive points on their licence, or lose their licence, as well as receiving a fine for using a privately-owned scooter on public land.
It is illegal to ride an e-scooter on the pavement. E-scooters which are hired or leased through the West of England’s trial can be ridden on any public land where cycles are permitted, within the operating zone.
The operator will use geofencing technology to limit access to some places. This can include restricting use entirely or limiting the speed of e-scooters within geographically defined zones. For example, the speed of e-scooters can be automatically restricted to slower speeds within busy pedestrian areas. Geofencing can also be used to ensure or encourage e-scooter users to park their e-scooters within permitted parking areas.
The West of England Combined Authority will work closely with the police, operators, stakeholders and the public throughout the trial to continually refine any geofenced boundaries.
It is illegal to ride an e-scooter on the footway.
We are engaging with a range of stakeholders in the region, including several groups which represent vulnerable road users, such as those with visual impairments. We are committed to working closely with these stakeholders throughout the trial.
Users must park e-scooters in Mandatory Parking Zones in order to finish their ride. In addition, users are required to take a photo of their parked scooter at the end of their ride, to prove they have parked considerately.
We are working closely with Voi and the authorities to introduce docking stations andon-street markings to encourage good parking behaviour from users and are considering reallocating on-street parking to e-scooter parking.
Voi has added content to their online traffic school, RideLikeVoila about the safety of vulnerable road users and is working with the West of England Combined Authority, councils and Avon & Somerset Police to ensure e-scooters are used responsibly.
E-scooters are classed as motorised vehicles and riders of authorised trial e-scooters must hold a full or provisional driving licence. Any non-compliant behaviour (e.g. dangerous riding, drunk riding) could result in penalty points on the licence. The West of England Combined Authority is working closely with Avon & Somerset Police as part of the trial to ensure that unsafe riding is minimised. The operator also has the ability to restrict or suspend unsafe users.
First and Third-Party Insurance is provided by the operator for both free floating and lease options.
In line with the Department for Transport’s guidance, we recommend wearing a cycle helmet when using an e-scooter, but their use will not be mandatory.
All scooters are disinfected regularly. Voi e-scooters are fitted with handlebars with a material that inhibits the transmission of viruses and bacteria, offering antibacterial, bactericidal and antiviral protection. Voi is also providing COVID-19 information and advice via its app.
Hop-on hop-off (short-term lease)
Riders are incentivised to park scooters correctly within virtual parking areas, and local on-street ambassadors will educate users on riding and parking safety. Local teams will manage the scooter fleet daily and will work closely with police to ensure that the scooters are not a menace for other road and pavement users. Users who behave inappropriately will be barred from the service. WECA, the participating authorities and Voi will continue to work together through the trial, and with DfT support, to identify and trial best parking practices.
E-scooters are available to unlock for £0.99 and cost 14p per minute. There are also a variety of subscriptions available, as well as discounted passes for students, key workers, and those on low-incomes.
We want to ensure that riders are safe and have the best possible experience. If the vehicle is faulty or needs to be repaired, the Voi local team will pick it up and replace it with a new one.
No, this will be included in the rental fee.
After the application has been approved and processed Voi will contact the user to arrange the scooter delivery to the user’s address.
Long term rental users are exempt from mandatory parking zones. Users should park them responsibly, on a section of pavement or other designated parking area considering pedestrians (especially vulnerable road users, such as those with visual or mobility impairments, children, and the elderly).
Yes, Voi will be providing a lock that users can use to lock the e-scooter.
At the end of the contract, Voi will arrange vehicle collection from the user’s home. The user will have to return the e-scooter, the charger and the lock.
Long term rental vehicles will be easily differentiated from the other shared rental e-scooters as they will have a black steering column instead of a coral coloured one.