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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

Portsmouth’s rental e-scooter trial extended until November

The rental e-scooter trial will continue for a further eight months, until 30 November 2022, following the outcome of a public decision meeting last week.

Portsmouth City Council has taken the important step of extending the rental e-scooter trial period to allow further data to be collected. This will provide an informative data set to the Department of Transport (DfT) whilst also giving a better understanding of the suitability of this means of travel in Portsmouth.

In Portsmouth, the rental e-scooters are provided and managed by Voi Technology. Since March 2021, 550 rental e-scooters have been introduced to Portsmouth, with 255,000 journeys taken and 493,000 miles travelled. The most common transport mode that Voi e-scooters are replacing is the car, with more than 112,000 of those journeys replacing car trips in the city.

The trial provides a way of investigating a new means of travel in a controlled and safe manner. The additional data will help ensure fluctuations caused by weather, major events, availability in residential areas, and returning users are as fully accounted for as possible during the trial period. People’s travel habits have recently started to return to normal for the first time since the start of the pandemic and it is important that this is captured in the Portsmouth trial.

Portsmouth is taking part in the national trials as part of the Solent Future Transport Zone. The trials are funded by the DfT, who are working with Solent Transport and local authorities to trial innovative approaches to transport across the Solent region. Rental e-scooter schemes are being monitored by the DfT in 31 areas across England.

The trials enable essential insights for the DfT and councils as to how rental e-scooters contribute to the transport mix in urban centres. Following the trials, it is anticipated that the DfT will assess whether they should be legalised in the UK.

Cllr Lynne Stagg, cabinet member for traffic and transportation said: “Extending the trial until November gives Solent Transport an even better opportunity to collect the important data needed for the DfT. Their decision will have an impact on the future use of rental e-scooters, not only in the Solent region, but for the whole country.

“I appreciate for some people this new way of travel remains a concern and if you see anything you are not happy with please report it to Voi on their website or by searching the words ‘report a voi’. The more information we have the better we can inform the future of rental e-scooters.” Unlike privately-owned e-scooters that are illegal to use anywhere except on private land, Voi’s distinctive coral-coloured rental e-scooters can be used on public roads, including cycle lanes and shared-use paths, but not footpaths.

Voi has provided fully racked parking bay locations across Portsmouth and riders are incentivised to use and park the e-scooters safely. Every Voi e-scooter has a unique registration number, with geofencing technology used to track their location.

Rental e-scooter riders must have a driving licence and be aged 18 or over. All are encouraged to wear a helmet and take virtual training via the Voi mobile phone app before their first ride. Voi restricts the maximum speed of e-scooters to 12.5mph, with a lower limit automatically applied in some places. The e-scooters are available for use from 4am to 10pm. Each ride of up to 45 minutes costs £1 plus 14p per minute. 24-hour and 30-day subscriptions are also available, with 50% discount for NHS staff and people on low incomes.

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