New electric scooter hire scheme for Oxford launched with Voi

Residents of Oxford can now hire zero-emission e-scooters as part of a trial to allow residents to travel safely and in a socially distanced form.

The launch is part of a trial led by Oxfordshire County Council and Swedish e-scooter operator Voi Technology. This follows the government’s decision to legalise rental e-scooters in 2020, to support local green travel, as e-scooters offer clean and inexpensive transport.

Councillor Yvonne Constance, Cabinet Member for Environment, 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. The trial also comes just ahead of our planned launch of the Oxford Zero Emission Zone this summer.”

Richard Corbett, Regional General Manager of UK, Ireland and Benelux for Voi, said: “We are delighted Oxfordshire County Council to bring our shared e-scooter scheme to the region. Oxfordshire is renowned for being the home of technological innovations, making it an ideal location for people to sample this revolutionary form of transport.

“This trial heralds an important opportunity for residents to move around in a socially distanced manner while the pandemic continues. Besides being one of the most environmentally-efficient ways to travel, our scooters can easily be integrated with public transport, replacing short car journeys. As we head towards the green recovery, micromobility can shape our cities for the future, making them better and safer places for all."

E-scooters provide a convenient and accessible form of travel for point-to-point- journeys or the first and last mile of public transport. This helps to reduce the need for short car journeys, improving air quality. They will also contribute towards the reduction in congestion and carbon emissions.

The plans also form part of Oxfordshire County Council’s response to the government’s active travel grant awarded in 2020. In Oxford, the scooters will reap the benefits of a freshly reinvigorated active travel network from this funding.

The trial, starting with 50 scooters, covers an area of Headington but will gradually expand to include the whole city as demand increases. Rental scooters can use roads and cycle lanes within the trial area but are banned on pavements. The scooters are also tracked by GPS and regularly serviced. In addition, there will be slow riding, no riding and mandatory parking areas to ensure the safety of riders and other road users.

Under current regulations, e-scooter users must be over 18 and hold a provisional or full driving licence. To ride a scooter, users are required to download the Voi app, available for free on Apple App Store and present a valid driving licence.

It costs £1 to unlock the scooter and then 20p per minute of usage. 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. There are also special rates for students, and those on low incomes and Voi is currently offering free rides to NHS and emergency service staff.

Users are strongly encouraged to wear helmets and scooter speeds are initially restricted to 10mph. In the first two weeks, scooters can be hired 6am - 10pm.

Voi will 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.

Oxfordshire County Council has also worked with Oxford City Council’s inclusive transport focus group, to ensure that the trial considers how it can be accessible and inclusive for people with disabilities.

Voi is also committed to upholding the council’s health and safety policy by providing riders with safety advice through its app and other educational campaigns. In addition, Voi’s e-scooters are cleaned and disinfected regularly to ensure that they cannot become a source of infection. They are also fitted with handlebars that have a special material that inhibits the transmission of viruses and bacteria, offering antibacterial, bactericidal and antiviral protection.

The council is also working with Voi to look at how e-scooters can form part of the evolving mobility infrastructure for Oxfordshire. There is also scope to expand the trial to other towns across Oxfordshire if there is demand.