A fleet of electric scooters will soon be available in Barnstaple as part of the Department for Transport (DfT)’s approved e-scooter trials taking place across the UK.
The trial, which will provide a green alternative to getting around the town, goes live on Wednesday May 17, with a launch event to take place in Barnstaple.
North Devon County Council is partnering with Zipp Mobility – recently acquired by Ireland’s largest micro mobility company ZEUS – which is taking a bespoke approach to how the company runs the trial in Barnstaple.
Zipp Mobility operates in five markets across the UK already, which makes them one of the largest and most experienced e-scooter operators in the country.
At the core of the Barnstaple trial is safety, both for the e-scooter riders themselves and other road users and pedestrians.
Zipp Mobility has already led several informal discussions with local councillors and other stakeholders, in particular representatives of disability organisations, to understand their concerns and address these in the design of the trial.
The launch event will take place at The Square (outside the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon) between 10am and 3pm on May 17.
Anyone who would like to arrange a free training session with Zipp can pre-book online, with a limited number of safety helmets being given away to those who book first. Passers-by will also be able to try the e-scooters on the day.
Ken Miles, chief executive of North Devon Council, said: “We are excited to be working with Zipp Mobility on this new e-scooter trial. We are working in close collaboration with stakeholders such as Devon and Cornwall Police, the Royal National Institute for the Blind and Barnstaple Town Council, to help ensure the safety and viability of the trial.
“In line with our commitment to tackle the climate emergency, e-scooters have a lower environmental footprint, with huge potential to improve air quality and reduce climate change. They also offer a sustainable solution to tackling transport challenges in North Devon.”
Read more: ‘Speed is a major selling point around ditching the car’
Charlie Gleeson, founder and chief executive at Zipp Mobility, said, “Our emphasis will be on safety both for e-scooter users and the general public. We really hope that people will see the advantage of getting around town in a cleaner, greener way while being aware of and considerate to other road users and pedestrians.
“I believe this climate-conscious, community-spirited attitude will be the key to the trial’s success.”
In order to ride an e-scooter, a user must be at least 16 years old and hold at least a provisional driving license. An ID Verification check will also be undertaken before a rider can hire a scooter. Scooters will be booked and paid for via the Zipp Mobility app, available on the App Store or Google Play store.
The Zipp scooters will be using geofencing technology to prevent riders from going into wholly pedestrian areas or onto major roads. If they try, the scooter motors will slow down to a standstill until they return to a permitted riding route. The maximum speed limit is 15.5 mph.
There will be virtual parking bays at approved locations around Barnstaple, although the council welcomes suggestions from members of the public on where they would like to see virtual parking bays, and from businesses or landowners who would welcome a virtual bay on their land.
Suggestions can be made by emailing email@example.com.
The Department for Transport has made e-scooters legal to use on road, cycle lanes and cycle paths only. Reports of misuse on Zipp e-scooters, like riding on the pavement, can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Zipp e-scooters will operate 24 hours, seven days a week. It will cost £1 to unlock the e-scooter and 20 pence per minute thereafter.
During the trial there will be regular opportunities for community feedback and the trial can be modified at any time to respond to local concerns or opportunities.