Residents in the West of England can now hire e-scooters as part of a government trial, which launched in Bristol and Bath in October 2020.
The WECA region is the first area in the UK to offer residents both the Voi hop-on hop-off and the long-term rental options:
Hop-on hop-off e-scooters
Hop-on hop-off e-scooters are 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.
Long-term lease hire e-scooters
On 27 January long-term rental e-scooters will be available across the West of England region, allowing residents to keep an e-scooter at home for an extended period of time, giving them more flexibility to travel from home and move flexibly within the region.
Residents will be able to store their long-term rental e-scooter at the 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 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.
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
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.
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).
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.
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.
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. 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.
It is illegal to ride an e-scooter on the pavement.
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.
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.
Insurance will be 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 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.
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.
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 their 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 scooter.
At the end of the contract, Voi will arrange vehicle collection from the user’s home. The user will have to return the scooter, the charger and the locker.
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 one.