Voi pays police to spot check e-scooters in UK city

28th September 2020 Sarah Wray

Swedish micromobility company Voi will pay for extra police patrols in Birmingham for spot checks on e-scooter riders to ensure they are using the vehicles safely and complying with national legislation.

Voi did not disclose how much is being paid but a spokesperson said the company has made similar arrangements in cities in Europe for short periods of time around service launches.

Police in Northampton have also committed to stepping up targeted patrols and will use Voi’s e-form to quickly notify the company of scooter misuse.

Voi recently won exclusive contracts to trial e-scooters in Northamptonshire and the West Midlands after the UK government fast-tracked regulations to enable pilots in July.  The latest announcement comes after Voi’s e-scooter trial in Coventry was put on hold earlier this month, just days after launch, following reports of users mounting pavements and driving the wrong way.

UK government guidance states that e-scooters are allowed on roads, cycle lanes and dedicated tracks but prohibited on pavements. Speeds are limited to 25 kilometres per hour and riders are recommended to wear helmets. Violations could result in a penalty notice or driving licence penalty points, as well as removal from the service.

A spokesperson for Voi commented: “Following discussions with Transport for the West Midlands and the West Midlands Combined Authority, we are introducing some changes to the service to intensify our existing procedures to identify and tackle misuse. These police patrols form part of those measures.

“The trials we operate for Transport for the West Midlands and the West Midlands Combined Authority are providing a new socially distant, environmentally friendly form of transportation across the region. We are passionate about shaping cities for people, reducing pollution and breaking traffic gridlock across Europe and now in the UK. But we can only do this if people treat this new form of transport with care and responsibility.”

Ambassadors

Voi says it has also stepped up the number of ambassadors it has on the streets when scooters are operational. Ambassadors are available to teach people how to ride the scooters, as well as to explain the rules.

The company is planning to fit registration plates to all e-scooters in the future to help enforce compliance. On its website, Voi states that it is “pro-regulation” and welcomes clear rules from cities.

Voi’s spokesperson said: “We’re working hard to restart the service in Coventry but we want to make sure that everything is fully in place, including a greater presence on the ground, number plates and revisions to the geofencing technology. We anticipate that we will back in October.”

Voi is also trialling an app-based reaction test game to prevent people riding while drunk.

Around 50 local authorities expressed an interest in running or allowing e-scooter trials over the next year.  Pilots have already been launched with various scooter companies in cities including Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Birmingham, Coventry and Northampton. Schemes are also set to launch in places such as York, Cambridge, Peterborough and Oxford.

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