It’s our birthday and we’ll cry out if we want to. Because, although we are jumping with joy about the fact that over six million rides have been taken on our e-scooters since we launched a year ago, we believe that changes in the law could help us serve thousands more UK citizens. So we are crying out for change in UK regulation to help grow this massive modal shift we are all witnessing. A shift that has, thanks to UK Voi users, led to a reduction of 1,100 tonnes of CO2 emissions and an estimated 2.3 million car trips being replaced.
A big share of the birthday cake
At present, since launching in Northampton in autumn 2020, we have licences to operate in 17 UK towns and cities, making us the leading UK e-scooter provider with 60% of the UK market share. That’s a big slice of the birthday cake. Our e-scooters and e-bikes are available in major cities across the UK, including Birmingham, Liverpool, Bristol, Northampton, Bath, Cambridge, Oxford, Portsmouth and Southampton.
“Our first year of operating in the UK has been truly amazing. We have been wowed by the public’s enthusiasm for e-scooters across all the towns and cities where we have launched. We are also deeply impressed by the commitment and public service of the council leaders and officials who share our vision of reshaping cities to provide better places to live and work.” – Jack Samler, General Manager, Voi Technology UK and Ireland
UK e-scooter trials extended to March 2022
The icing on our birthday cake is that the UK government e-scooter trials, introduced in May 2020, have been extended to March 2022 in many cities. This is predominantly so that councils can continue to collect meaningful data on how e-scooters are used, and how they relieve congestion as well as pressure on public transport. Voi has now had extended pilots in Northampton, Birmingham, Cambridge and Peterborough and will continue to work closely with councils across the country to achieve the same.
These extensions are a welcome recognition of the successful collaboration we have enjoyed with our many councils and local authorities over the last year, and we are delighted that they will be extending their contracts for the next six months. We are confident our loyal users will be happy to hear that they can continue to use our service.
Voi recommends changes to UK regulation
To continue the momentum achieved in the past 12 months, Voi has six recommendations for the future regulation of the e-scooter sector. These are:
- The Department for Transport should ensure e-scooter services remain available to the public. If trials were to stop, all the progress made would be lost with users most likely to return to using cars, or illegal, unregulated private e-scooters
- Primary legislation should create a new classification of vehicles to cover e-scooters, which recognises the differences between scooters and electric-assist pedal cycles. This would give operators the freedom to innovate whilst still ensuring safe operations
- Local authorities and operators should agree governance structure for the operation of shared scooter services to allow them to scale to meet growing demand, while ensuring local authorities have the authority to ensure a safe service
- Local authorities should prioritise the development of cycling infrastructure such as segregated cycle lanes, to encourage safe micromobility journeys and discourage private cars for short journeys
- Councils and e-scooter operators should work together to find alternative parking solutions to pavement parking. As more urban space is freed up due to fewer cars on the roads, this should give rise to on-street scooter parking and parklets to minimise disruption to pedestrians
- The Department for Transport should ensure a level playing field between shared and private e-scooters in any future legislation. Legislation permitting the use of private e-scooters should include strict provisions around insurance and vehicle specifications such as maximum weight and speed
Voi’s one year highlights as leading UK e-scooter operator
Our highlights have been many over the last year, and we wouldn’t want to favour one over the other, because every action of our team members and customers has helped put micromobility on the map. From becoming the first shared e-scooter service to operate in the UK to winning Europe’s biggest ever tender for e-scooters in the West Midlands, or working closely with the RNIB to create specially designed parking racks that are more visible to the partially sighted and now working on an in-depth inclusion strategy to ensure that micromobility gives access to all. We were honoured, for example, to support NHS and emergency services workers during the pandemic when we launched the Voi 4 Heroes Pass and also helped the vaccination effort with free rides to vaccine centres.
Google has also joined the birthday party by featuring us on Google Maps, making it easier for people to integrate e-scooter rides into their daily journeys. For more details on everything we achieved during this time, from safety to sustainability, inclusion to infrastructure, read our One year in the UK report.