Voi e-scooter trial scheme to launch in Portsmouth and Southampton this month

Voi e-scooter trial

Voi scooters

Residents, visitors and business users in Portsmouth and Southampton will be able to rent a Voi e-scooter from the 16th and 18th March, respectively, as part of a Government led trial to allow people in these cities to access a sustainable and socially distanced mode of travel.

The launch is part of a twelve-month trial funded by the Department for Transport, which began on the Isle of Wight in November 2020. The trial is being led by Solent Transport, a partnership body that includes Portsmouth City Council and Southampton City Council, and Swedish micro-mobility operator Voi Technology. This follows the government’s decision to fast-track rental e-scooter trials across the country to support the green restart of local travel and to explore how best to manage the growth in this new form of personal transport.

Voi scooters - rowRental e-scooters offer a socially distanced, outdoor mode of transport, particularly relevant while social distancing measures remain in place. They also provide a convenient and accessible mode of transport, ideal for journeys from 1-3 miles or the first and last mile of public transport, reducing the number of short car journeys and consequently improving air quality.

Under Voi’s regulations, rental e-scooter users must be over 18 and hold a provisional or full driving licence and users are strongly encouraged to wear helmets. Rental e-scooters can ride on the same road spaces as bikes, including cycle lanes. The rental e-scooters being used in the trial include unique identification plates and are equipped with bright lights and reflectors for increased visibility.

Privately-owned, unregulated e-scooters will not be included in the trial and remain illegal, except on private land.

The e-scooter operator is also working closely with Southampton City Council and Portsmouth City Council to create geofenced areas, including slow riding, no riding and mandatory parking areas, to ensure riders and other road users’ safety. More information on the operating areas in each region and the different zones will be provided once the trial launches.

Safety is a top priority for Voi and both cities. E-scooters are a new mode of transport, and Voi will work alongside the councils to educate riders through online and offline educational campaigns. Riders will also be encouraged to complete Voi’s digital e-scooter traffic school #RideLikeVoila, the world’s first certified digital traffic school, which has trained over half a million riders so far.

Cllr Steve Leggett, Cabinet member for Green City and Place for Southampton City Council, said: “We welcome the trial of rental e-scooters which will help to keep the city moving as we start to emerge from the pandemic in the Spring, while also supporting our Green City Plan to tackle climate change by offering greener and healthier alternatives to the car. Crucially, rental e-scooters will also offer a unique way to get our visitors and residents more active.”

Richard Corbett, Regional General Manager of UK, Ireland and Benelux for Voi, said: “We look forward to continuing to work with Portsmouth and Southampton City Councils to bring our rental e-scooter scheme to the region later this month. E-scooters are a safe, flexible and affordable way for people to commute or move around. These green active modes of transport can easily be integrated with public transport, replacing short car journeys, ultimately creating better places to work and live.”

Cllr Lynne Stagg, Portsmouth City Council's Cabinet Member for Traffic and Transportation, said: "I'm delighted to support this regulated, rental e-scooter trial which will contribute towards our developing plans for a greener, cleaner and safer city. Our participation in the trial will feed into the DfT's development of regulated, rental e-scooters as a versatile, affordable, convenient and low-energy alternative to the car. We're working closely with Voi and Solent Transport to make sure this is introduced safely whilst also working with the police on the illegal use of privately owned e-scooters."

Voi is also committed to upholding the local authorities’ health and safety policy and providing riders with safety and COVID-19 information and advice via the app. To make sure the fleet is safe, Voi is frequently cleaning and disinfecting the fleet, while Voi scooters are fitted with handlebars made of a material that inhibits the transmission of viruses and bacteria, thus offering antibacterial, bactericidal and antiviral protection.

Ahead of the trial, Voi, Portsmouth and Southampton City Councils will continue to work closely to listen and address any local population’s safety concerns, especially vulnerable groups. Close planning and collaboration with the local police force will go a long way to ensuring the trial’s safety.

Both councils welcome feedback from the public and stakeholders throughout the trial.