E-scooters focus of Northamptonshire Road Safety Week 2021 after passing one million rides

"Lots of work has gone into promoting safe e-scooter use but we are aware that more needs to be done," say police

By Kevin Nicholls
Tuesday, 16th November 2021, 11:16 am
Voi e-scooters first arrived in Northamptonshire in September 2020
Voi e-scooters first arrived in Northamptonshire in September 2020

E-scooters will be the focus of attention during Road Safety Week across Northamptonshire, which kicks-off on Monday (November 15).

Police and local counties are joining forces with rental company Voi to promote respect between scooter riders and other road users during the week-long annual campaign by road safety charity Brake.

Advocates say e-scooters provide an eco-friendly form of transport around towns.

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Voi's distinctive orange scooters have been a huge hit with users and the company claims more than one million rides locally have replaced 560,000 short car journeys since they were first launched in Northampton in September 2020.

More rental schemes were introduced in Corby, Kettering and Rushden earlier this year and initial trials were recently been extended into 2022.

But critics points to confusion because privately-owned scooters are not legal on public roads while the rented ones have been prone to misuse by under-age riders and being ridden on footpaths, leading to complaints of anti-social behaviour.

PC Dave Lee, from Northamptonshire Police’s Safer Roads Team, admitted: “A lot of work has gone into promoting safe e-scooter use in the county but we are aware that more needs to be done.

"This is the start of that work and just by taking that bit of extra care and looking out for your fellow road users, you can help us make the roads a safer place for everyone.

“We want to use this opportunity to encourage users of Voi e-scooters to follow all of the rules, including not riding them on the pathways.

“Equally, we want the drivers of cars to pass scooter users safely, leaving a gap of at least 1.5 metres when doing so."

Voi upped its game in response to initial concerns.

Matthew Pencharz, the Swedish firm's Head of Public Policy for the UK, said: “Safety is at the forefront of everything we do at Voi and we address it in three ways: education, operations and technology.

"Our priority is keeping riders, pedestrians and other road users safe so everyone can enjoy this sustainable mode of transport, replacing short car rides and reducing congestion and pollution.

“We want safer streets, so this is why we work closely with the police and the local authorities to ensure riders know their responsibilities.

"We organise frequent in-person and online safety events, and combine technology features such as the ‘Beginners Mode’, ‘Helmet Selfie’, ‘End of Ride photo’ and geofencing, with staff on the ground and number plates on all our vehicles, to ensure users follow the rules before, after and during their ride.

“We know the vast majority of users think and act safely, but as the nights draw in and the weather changes, we want to reiterate the importance to all our riders that adhering to the rules is for everyone’s safety.”

West Northamptonshire Council highways portfolio holder, Cllr Phil Larratt, said: "The trial has been a success so far, with more and more people choosing to use the Voi e-scooters as a convenient and eco-friendly way to get around.

“Road Safety Week is the ideal time to promote respect between motorists and e-scooter users, and I would encourage everyone to take the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the rules of use as well as the safety advice that's being offered.”