New parking racks for Northamptonshire trip hazard e-scooters

Scooter company Voi has been working with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)

Thursday, 20th May 2021, 12:01 am

Northamptonshire s towns that have Voi e-scooters are to have parking racks installed to reduce street hazards and clutter to protect vulnerable pedestrians.

Scooter operator company Voi has been working with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to understand the needs of blind and partially-sighted pedestrians during the rollout of e-scooter trials.

The two organisations have collaborated on redesigning parking racks to improve visibility and address mobility issues faced by blind and partially-sighted people

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The new RNIB approved parking racks
The new RNIB approved parking racks

Jack Samler, general manager at Voi UK and Ireland, said: “We’ve been working closely with RNIB for several months to redesign our e-scooter racks to improve the visibility and address mobility issues faced by blind and partially sighted people.

"During the upcoming months, we will be installing these parking racks in cities where we have trials, and we are looking forward to evaluating the impact that the collaborative design has during the trials.”

The redesigned racks have extended and raised side panels and increased colour contrast to help them stand out better visually, and help cane users locate and avoid the scooter rack more easily. This makes the scooter rack more visually distinctive and helps cane users to locate and avoid the scooter rack more easily.

Each rack can hold up to 10 e-scooters and the first RNIB redesigned racks will be installed firstly in Birmingham and then rolled out in areas where Voi is trailing its e-scooters, including Northamptonshire.

Voi scooters are on the streets of Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough, Rushden, Higham Ferrers and Northampton

Voi will install the parking racks in Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough, Rushden and Higham Ferrers, and evaluate the impact the redesign has on its e-scooter trials - Northampton already has some racks.

This project is part of Voi’s wider working collaboration with RNIB to understand the needs of blind and partially sighted pedestrians. The micro-mobility operator has already taken the first steps in implementing the organisation’s recommendations looking at key elements, such as rider education, training, e-scooter sound alerts and now the redesign of its parking racks.

John Worsfold, strategic innovation implementation manager at RNIB, said: “The Voi team has worked enthusiastically to better understand the concerns and needs of blind and partially sighted people and we look forward to testing the resulting redesign of their e-scooter racks.

"We also look forward to learning about the deployment and impact this redesign has for blind and partially sighted people when they are trialled in our towns and cities."

Voi riders have now taken more than two million rides to date in the UK however improperly parked e-scooters have been hazardous to pedestrians and other road users.

A spokesman for Voi said: "Voi is committed to investing in parking infrastructure to simplify parking, as well as increase safety and limit street clutter.

"According to a study from the Norwegian Institute for Transport Economics, dedicated parking spots for shared e-scooters can help solve pavement clutter.

"When testing Voi parking racks in Oslo, as well as unbranded parking spaces painted on the pavements, Voi has found that more than half of e-scooter riders ended their trips in a designated area.

"Voi currently has scooter racks installed in Northampton, Portsmouth and Southampton and many more will be deployed in the next few months."

In the UK, the company recently rolled out an ‘end of ride photo’ feature in the Voi app, requiring riders to take and submit a photo of their parked scooter after each ride.

Riders who leave e-scooters lying down or obstructing the pavement will receive a warning for their first infraction and a fine of £25 for any further incidents.

So far, Voi has seen a 70 per cent improvement in good parking behaviour with the introduction of this feature.