Residents and visitors to Oxford can benefit from a further expansion of the city’s e-scooter trial, which will now include a large area of the eastern and southern parts of the city.
Since its launch in February in Headington, the e-scooter trial by Oxfordshire County Council and partner Voi Technology has proved an overwhelming success according to the County Council.
Over 9400 unique users have signed up to use the app-enabled scooters for zero-emission journeys as part of a big investment the council has made in the active travel infrastructure thanks to the Department for Transport’s £2.9 million grant.
The trial supports a change in how residents can travel, from private vehicles to zero-emission forms, including cycling, walking and e-scooters and offers a real option for low cost and socially distanced transport, particularly as the pandemic recovery gains pace.
The expansion of the trial will cover an area of the city in the east, including Marston, Cowley, Hinksey, Iffley, Rose Hill, Barton and Florence Park, with the number of scooters set to increase incrementally from 120 to 200.
Rental scooters can use roads and cycle lanes within the trial area but are illegal to use on pavements. The scooters are also tracked by GPS and regularly serviced. In addition, there will be further slow riding, no riding and mandatory parking areas in the expanded trial area to ensure the safety of riders and other road users.
Recently Voi introduced the ‘end of ride photo’ feature, which requires users to take a photo of their parked scooter at the end of each ride.
Riders who leave e-scooters parked in a way that is obstructing the pavement and causing an obstacle to pedestrians, strollers or wheelchairs, will receive an email with a warning and an educational message. After the first warning, riders who park their vehicles incorrectly will receive a £25 fine.
E-scooter users must be over 18 and hold a provisional or full driving licence. To ride a scooter, users can download the Voi app, available for free on Apple App Store or Google Play and present a valid driving licence.
It costs £1 to unlock the scooter and then 20p per minute of the ride. Voi also offers several subscriptions that allow users to take an unlimited number of rides at a fixed rate. The subscriptions can be purchased in the app.
Voi offers special rates for students and those on low incomes and is currently offering free rides to NHS and emergency service staff under the Voi 4 Heroes scheme, which has, so far, given over 4,580 free rides to over 200 users in Oxford to date.
Voi continues to collaborate with Oxfordshire County Council to support rider education, amongst other things, by offering incentives and encouraging riders to take Voi’s accredited e-scooter digital traffic school which has trained over half a million users to be safe riders.
Both partners also ask the public to report any via Voi’s report a scooter page. Voi has a strict three-strike policy and reported riders will receive temporary or permanent bans from the service.
Councillor Tim Bearder, Cabinet Member for Highway Management at Oxfordshire County Council, said: “Our electric scooter trial in Oxford with Voi has brought us an exciting opportunity to explore alternative and green transport options for our communities. As a county council, we have set out our continued commitment to addressing climate change and transport innovation is a key part of that. To date, the trial has been a great success with our residents. With the expansion of the trial, many more can now benefit from rapid, green, low cost transport as the city recovers.”
Jack Samler, General Manager at Voi UK and Ireland, said: “Since the trial launched in Oxford, over 22,000 rides were taken with Voi scooters in Headington, replacing an estimated 8,950 short car trips. We are delighted to continue to work closely with Oxfordshire County Council to expand our trial into other areas of the city ensuring more people can adopt this safe, fun and environmentally-friendly mode of transport, ditching short car trips, and creating a healthier and better city for all.”