E-scooter trial for Bristol

People will be able to rent and ride scooters via an app

European e-scooter company Voi will roll out a hop-on and hop-off e-scooter scheme in Bristol and Bath this autumn.

The 12-month government trial will have clusters of e-scooters available at key locations such as stations, university campuses, hospitals and large employment sites.

There will also be longer-term hire options available, to allow residents to take e-scooters home or store them at work.

It is currently illegal to ride private e-scooters on public roads and pavements, but they are still a common sight across many cities such as Bristol.

Proposals to trial e-scooters in Bristol were made by the city more than two years ago. The new method of transport is hoped to offer a sustainable way to travel while social distancing is in place on public transport.

The trial is being led by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) in partnership with Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire councils.

Rental e-scooters on the trial will be capped to a maximum speed of 15.5 mph and geofencing technology will allow slower speed restrictions to be imposed in defined areas.

The following key rules apply for the e-scooter trials:

• Privately-owned e-scooters remain illegal to use on roads, pavements, parks and other public areas.

• 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 that are part of the trial can be used wherever cycles are permitted.

• E-scooters cannot be used on pavements.

• E-scooters are classed as motorised vehicles and riders of authorised trial e-scooters must hold a full or provisional driving licence.

Marvin Rees, mayor of Bristol, said: “We are pleased to welcome VOI and e-scooters to Bristol, bringing much needed travel options alongside improvements we’re making for cycling, buses and mass transit to support people flow on major routes. These options are even more important as we react and recover from Covid restrictions to our public transport networks, and the investment and jobs VOI are bringing the city region are encouraging too.

He added: “Scooters are a great way to travel while reducing emissions, air pollution and congestion, and we will work closely with the operator and share experiences with other cities to make sure they are used responsibly and safely by those taking up the trial.”

Fredrik Hjelm, co-founder and CEO of Voi Technology, said: “Voi will soon be coming to Bristol and Bath, two marvellous British cities of great economic and cultural importance, and we couldn’t be more excited about it. The pandemic has created a major transportation problem that Voi is helping to solve as we need a climate- and COVID-friendly alternative to a car-led ‘recovery’. The viable alternative is an e-scooter rental scheme which puts rider and public safety, as well as the climate, first.”

Caitlin Bowring

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