20p-a-minute e-scooter trial launches in Cambridge with ‘geofenced’ area and Covid safety measures
A new grab-and-go form of transport is now available on the streets of Cambridge as an e-scooter hire scheme is introduced.
The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and e-scooter operator Voi Technology are launching the trial in Cambridge city centre. It will be similar to the Ofo bike scheme, which allowed people to hire yellow bicycles wherever they found one.
A pop-up safety event is taking place at Cambridge railway station from 10.30am today (Thursday October 15), with Voi ambassadors giving out helmets and rider safety information. These pop-up safety events will be repeated weekly as the e-scooters are introduced and more people sign up to the free Voi app, which allows people to hire the scooters.
The mayor of the Combined Authority, James Palmer, said: “Electric scooters have the power to transform the way we travel and I am delighted to be making them available in our historic city centre so that commuters and visitors alike can enjoy quicker, healthier journeys.
“Active transport solutions like this will become a vital part of our future public transport network – a cleaner, more efficient way to get around .”
The e-scooter trial will run for the next 12 months. Initially, there will be 50 in the city centre and they will be available to unlock for £1 and cost 20p per minute between 6am and 8pm. There are also a variety of subscriptions available, as well as discounted passes for students, key workers, and low-income individuals.
However, to ride a Voi e-scooter, a user must have a provisional driving licence and be at least 18 years of age.
Speeds will be capped at 10mph with geofencing to ensure the scooters do not go outside the trial area. Slow-ride and no-ride zones are also in place to enhance safety.
When a scooter goes beyond a certain boundary, the e-scooter’s speed will reduce gradually. In a no-ride zone, the motor is slowed to 3mph (walking pace).
The scheme is being described as carbon-neutral, with forecasts suggesting over the 12 months it will have a 12-16 per cent car replacement rate and save 48-115 tonnes of CO2.
Fredrik Hjelm, co-founder and CEO of Voi Technology, said: “We’re delighted to be launching Voi’s e-scooters in Cambridge, the world’s most renowned city for innovation and technology. Cambridgeshire has some of the best cycling infrastructure in the UK, making it an ideal location for people to sample this revolutionary form of transport.
“By transforming how we move around, we can also shape our cities for the future, making them better and safer places to be.”
Where e-scooter schemes have been introduced elsewhere, there have been concerns about safety for pedestrians. A trial in Coventry was recently stopped.
Superintendent James Sutherland, of Cambridgeshire police, added: “E-scooters are a safe, convenient and environmentally friendly way to travel around, as long as you follow the rules and stay on the roads and off pavements. We have been working very closely with Voi in setting up the trial to make sure it is a success and we will continue to be involved, ensuring that the vehicles are used safely and responsibly in the city.”
The scooters in Cambridge will be disinfected every 24 hours and Voi said it is rolling out copper tape on handlebars, which inactivates 99.98 per cent of the coronavirus. Voi is also providing Covid-19 information and advice via its app.
Riders are also encouraged to complete Voi’s digital e-scooter traffic school, #RideLikeVoila.
Those who abandon a scooter in a no-parking zone will be charged a premium, while those breaching the rules could be blocked from using the e-scooters.
Rachel Maclean MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport said: “The trials of rental e-scooters starting in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough could offer cleaner, efficient and more affordable travel for local communities.
“Learning from trials already taking place, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s will see strict safety measures introduced - including licence verification and responsible parking incentives, while also helping us better understand any impacts on public spaces.”
All the safety measures
- Scooters will not exceed 10mph and will be slower in some areas
- All scooters will have clear number plates to help identify riders
- Voi ambassadors will be present on the streets to enforce safe behaviour
- The e-scooters will operate only from 6am to 8pm
- Using geofencing and Internet of Things technology, there will be no-ride zones and slow-speed zones for areas where there are close interactions with pedestrians
- When a user travels out of the operational zone they will be blocked
- Ambassadors will also work in collaboration with the Cambridgeshire police
- Cambridgeshire Constabulary is also working with Voi to help spread education and safety messages for riders
- Voi is introducing greater deterrents to unsafe riding by charging users a premium for abandoning or parking a scooter in a no-parking zone and blocking users who abuse the licensing rules by, for example, enabling under-age riders.
- Anyone caught using e-scooters illegally could face criminal proceedings. For misuse, six points could be added to a user’s driving licence.