Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are set to play host to expanded e-scooter trials as European operator Voi arrives in the UK.
The European operator has been appointed on a 12-month trial basis to provide both e-bikes and e-scooters across the region.
E-scooters will be tested in the centre of Cambridge in the coming weeks, where they will be assessed for safety and long-term viability. E-bikes will arrive later and are expected to be placed at rail stations and Park and Ride sites. Various areas are being investigated to gauge the potential level of demand and uptake.
“E-scooters will allow visitors, tourists, students, and commuters to make quick short journeys across town,” said a Voi statement. “It is thought that 60% of current car journeys are only 1-2 miles in length and e-scooters and other modes of active travel could help significantly reduce unnecessary reliance on cars for these short journeys.”
Within the first three months of operation, Voi will assess and present recommendations to the Combined Authority on any additional infrastructure requirements for e-scooters and e-bikes, based on user feedback and user journey data, including feedback from disability group associations such as RNIB and Disabilities Move UK.
Mayor James Palmer said: “Electric bikes and scooters have the potential to revolutionise travel and I am delighted that Cambridgeshire and Peterborough will be the first region in the country to make both available to the public so they can enjoy quicker, healthier journeys.
“This year has seen a 27% drop in carbon emissions and a 200% increase in cycling, with people enjoying soaring air quality and fitter lifestyles, the benefits to moving away from cars and buses are clear and our investment shows we are committed rolling out a fully integrated active travel network for our region.”
Fredrik Hjelm, co-founder and CEO of Voi Technology, said: “We are delighted to announce that Cambridge, the world’s most renowned city for innovation and technology, will be the first city in the UK where people can use a Voi e-scooter and enjoy the benefits of this liberating new form of transport. People are keen to get out of their cars and want greener transport choices. Cities that are serious about cutting pollution and congestion see that this is a huge opportunity to introduce a mode of transport that can radically improve how we get around urban areas.”
As part of the trial, Voi will:
– Offer rides at £1 to unlock + £0.20 per minute
– Create over 50 full-time equivalent jobs
– Integrate fully with east coast rail operator LNER and Iomob as the network provider’s preferred partner, the Cambridgeshire Cycling Campaign and support the Combined Authority’s plans for the Cambridge Autonomous Metro (CAM)
– Provide safety pop-ups and helmets at launch events
– Offer Voi subscriptions for £10 a day/£40 a month alongside subsidised Voi-4-All Passes for low-income groups at £10 per month
– Support key workers with free rides and support local businesses to enable them to offer, or extend, delivery services
– Launch #RidewithVoila, an online traffic school, for local riders, with incentives to encourage riders to take a course before they ride
On average, 106 deaths per year in the Greater Cambridge region alone can be attributed to air pollution, with emissions from cars and emissions per capita 50% above the national average in Cambridgeshire. The partnership between Voi and the Combined Authority will aim to reduce CO2 emissions by 400 tonnes across the region by August 2021.
Providing e-bikes and e-scooters will also help to prevent the spread of coronavirus across the region by allowing people to make journeys while remaining socially distanced. In addition, Voi is rolling out Shieldex Copper-Tape tape on handlebars, designed to kill 99.98% of coronavirus on contact, and all scooters are disinfected every 24 hours.