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Major Updates

Residents in the West of England can now hire e-scooters as part of a government trial, starting this Autumn.

Hop-on hop-off e-scooters

Hop-on hop-off scooters will be available in Bristol and Bath to help residents and visitors to get around central areas. Clusters of e-scooters will also be available at other key locations such as stations, university campuses, hospitals and large employment sites.

Longer-term lease hire scooters

A longer-term e-scooter rental scheme will allow residents to take their e-scooters home and store them at the workplace or lock 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 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.

Continue reading below to find out more, or visit Voi to get started.

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How long will the trial last for?

The trial will last for 12 months and has been fast tracked in response to coronavirus to offer a new sustainable way to travel while social distancing is in place on public transport.

Who can hire an e-scooter?

The trial e-scooters can be rented by anyone over 18 with a full or provisional driving licence.

Where can I use an e-scooter?

Only e-scooters hired or leased through the West of England trial can be used legally on public land.

Initially the trial will only cover Bristol and Bath city centres, but eventually the trial zones will expand to include larger areas in the West of England region. 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.  

Personal e-scooters, outside of the trial, remain illegal except when used on private land with the permission of the landowner.

What about safety?

We have worked closely with our councils, police and operators to put in place measures to make this trial as successful as possible.

Initially e-scooter speeds will be limited to between 3 to 10 mph, depending on the operating zone.  

Geofencing technology allows slower speed restrictions to be imposed in defined areas which will be identified in collaboration with the police, the councils, the operator, and stakeholder groups including equalities groups.

We know that most people will use e-scooters responsibly and we will work with the operator and the police to address irresponsible use.

Frequently asked questions

  • Why are you doing a trial?

    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.

  • When will the trial start?

    The trial is launching on 29 October 2020. The trial will then last for 12 months from this date.

  • What area does the e-scooter trial cover?

    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.

  • Are all e-scooters legal now?

    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.

  • Who is the operator?

    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. 

    Read the full announcement on the WECA website.

  • What are the options for users?

    The West of England trial will test two different models:  

    Hop-on-hop off 

    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 stationsWe 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 

    Personal lease 

    We will also be trialling a personal lease model where residents of Bristol City, Bath and North East Somerset, and South Gloucestershire will be able to lease an e-scooter for longer periods of time for a monthly fee. Users will be responsible for charging their own e-scooters and keeping them locked or stored securely (like a bicycle). 

  • Will e-scooters be allowed on pavements?

    E-scooters cannot be ridden on pavements. 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.

  • Will there be areas where you can’t use an e-scooter?

    The operator will use geofencing technology to limit access to some places Geofencing uses GPS technology to restrict use or limit 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.

  • How will you prevent the free-floating rental scheme from cluttering streets?

    Riders will be incentivised to park scooters correctly in defined parking areas, and local ambassadors will educate users on riding and parking safely. 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. 

  • How will you protect vulnerable people on pavements (including people who have visual impairments)?

    E-scooters cannot be used on pavements.

    We are engaging with a range of stakeholders in the region, including several groups which represent vulnerable road users, including those with visual impairments. We are committed to working closely with these stakeholders throughout the trial.

    Voi has added content to their online traffic school 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.

  • Will I need a licence to use one?

    E-scooters are to be 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 non-compliant behaviour is minimised. The operator will also have the ability and be expected to restrict or bar non-compliant users.

  • How much will they cost?

    It will cost £1 to unlock the e-scooter and then £0.20 per minute of usage. There are also subscriptions, special rates for students, NHS and emergency services personnel, and those on low incomes. You can find out more on: 

  • Do I need insurance?

    Insurance will be provided by the operator for both free floating and lease options.

  • Do I need a helmet to use one?

    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.

  • What measures have been put in place for Covid 19?

    All scooters are disinfected regularly. Voi is trialling anti-viral copper tape on handlebars, which helps to stem the spread of coronavirus. Voi is also providing COVID-19 information and advice via its app.  

Further information

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