Summer safety reminders as Voi e-scooters clock up 500,000th ride in Northamptonshire

Holiday season could spark people jumping on board without checking they can or should

Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 8:19 am

Rented e-scooters have racked up more than half-a-million rides in ten months since they were launched in towns across Northamptonshire

But police, council chiefs and bosses at Voi — the company that runs the scooter scheme — are concerned that summer will see a surge in people jumping on board without checking they can or should.

Voi launched their first trial scheme in Northampton last September as a cheap, eco-friendly alternative method of transport with more following earlier this year in Wellingborough, Burton Latimer, Corby, Higham Ferrers, Rushden. Kettering, Corby and Rushden.

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Voi launched its e-scooter trials in North Northamptonshire earlier this year
Voi launched its e-scooter trials in North Northamptonshire earlier this year

Critics have complained about safety, however, with concerns over e-scooters being ridden in pedestrian areas, people riding tandem and kids using them for joy-rides.

Cllr Graham Lawman, North Northamptonshire Council executive member for Highways, Travel and Assets, said: “The Voi e-scooters are on trial in several areas of North Northamptonshire and their ease of use and access as well as environmental benefits have made them attractive to users.

“For the trial to be a success, however, public concerns such as their being ridden on pavements — which is dangerous for pedestrians — inappropriate parking and under-age users must be addressed.

“Following one unfortunate incident recently, it is critical that awareness is increased and users are fully educated on the traffic laws and Voi safety guidance, so I welcome this initiative with Northamptonshire Police and the council working together to educate and, if necessary, enforce as the summer holidays approach.

“The e-scooters can be enjoyable to use and an efficient way to commute, but, this must be with the safety of all road users paramount.”

PC Dave Lee, from Northamptonshire Police Safer Roads Team, admitted: “We have heard a lot of positive stories from commuters and other members of the public about how these e-scooters have had a positive impact on their lives and this is great because we have done a lot of work with Voi since this trial began to make it as safe as possible.

“As we go into summer, I would urge people to have a re-read of the rules as people often don’t realise that an e-scooter is classed as a motor-vehicle and therefore the same laws and restrictions that govern cars apply to them too.

“I would also like to remind people that it is illegal to ride private e-scooters, unless on private land with the owners’ permission, and vehicles used illegally could be seized by the Police.”

“We will be carrying out operations in partnership with Voi and the two councils to ensure that people are using these scooters in the correct manner and to enforce against those who aren’t.”

Scooters are paid for by the minute via the Voi app and are parked in busy locations such as train and bus stations and the university campus in Northampton, in a bid to encourage people to ditch short car journeys. More than 570,000 rides have been taken so far in Northamptonshire, including over 45,000 free rides by NHS staff and emergency service workers under the Voi 4 Heroes Programme. But the rules are:

■ You must be 18 or over with a driving licence to ride the e-scooters.

■ When a user first rides a Voi e-scooter, ID verification is completed by Onfido to ensure the account holder is the person riding the scooter. Only the account holder can ride the e-scooter.

■ The scooters must be used on roads or cycle lanes. Riding on the pavement is illegal.

■ Riding a scooter under the influence is illegal and if caught, you will be arrested for drink driving.

■ Voi encourages responsible riding and offers a 'reaction time test' feature that aims to discourage drunk riding. Should a rider fail the reaction test, they are presented with a Google search for local taxis.

Voi also encourages everyone to report instances of anti-social behaviour or misuse via their report a scooter page so that appropriate action can be taken. Users face temporary or permanent bans if they do not follow the e-scooter usage rules.

Voi UK general manager, Jack Samler , added: "E-scooters have the potential to transform our cities into healthier and better places to live.

“While we are committed to amplifying the benefits of e-scooters by investing and working closely with our local partners, we continue to educate our riders to ensure they know their responsibilities by encouraging them to complete our online riding school or attend one of the many in-person or online safety events where they can find out how to ride and park a scooter safely."