E-scooters now available in Northampton in a move described as a ‘win win’ for the environment and for people

Users need to have at least a provisional driving licence to ride the scooters

Thursday, 3rd September 2020, 6:30 pm

A 12-month electric scooter trial to encourage a new mode of transport that reduces the town’s carbon footprint began in Northampton today (September 3).

Voi, the company that operates the e-scooters, had team members in Market Square along with representatives from Northamptonshire County Council, to launch the new initiative, which members of the public can now take full advantage of.

To start the trial, 300 e-scooters, which are paid for by the minute via an app, have been dotted around the town at places such as the train station, bus station and the university campus, in bid to encourage bus, taxi or car users to jump on a scooter instead.

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The Voi team were in Northampton today (September 3) to launch the 12-month trial. Photo: Kirsty Edmonds.

Nikolina Kotur, expansion specialist for Voi, said: “We focus so much on safety, everything from instructions in the app to slow zones where they can’t be ridden quickly.

“You have to have at least a provisional driving licence to ride one, as they are not a toy. They need to be driven on the road so users need to know the rules of the road.

“Users have to put all their details into the app and then the QR code is scanned on the scooter, which is then ready to go.”

The scooters have an area of the town where they are allowed to be taken to, which has been worked out by Voi and the county council and includes the town centre and stretches to as far as Moulton Park.

The launch took place in Market Square but scooters can be collected from around the town. Photo: Kirsty Edmonds.

The vehicles must then be parked in public areas where the next users can locate the scooter using the Voi app.

Although the scooters can be parked anywhere, publicly, there are designated places, detailed on the app, where the company prefers them to be parked. This is incentivised with offers of discounted rides if users park the scooter in the designated area.

Nikolina added: “You can park them in most places, but we show you where we want them to be parked and you profit from that, which has proven to be successful in other areas.

“We also encourage everyone to wear a helmet, although we can’t force anyone to.”

The white are shows where the scooters are allowed to be ridden and the app also shows users where scooters are located and where users are encouraged to park them.

The batteries that are located underneath the foot pedal of the scooters, last up to 100 hours.

But Voi has ambassadors in Northampton seven days a week to pick up any scooters that need charging and to make sure they are all left in appropriate places.

Rules for riding the scooters also include an age restriction of over 18, one person per scooter and no riding under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Covid-secure measures have also been taken into account, which is why the scooters are designed with copper handles as copper can kill viruses.

The scooters were great fun to try out! Photo: Kirsty Edmonds.

However the team is also responsible for sanitation of the scooters.

Jason Smithers, highways and place cabinet member for Northamptonshire County Council, added: “It gives people another option to get around town and we’re really excited about it.

“People want to make a difference and they can by getting on one of these rather than a bus and helping to reduce carbon footprint.

“The scooters are win win for the environment and for people.

“Users have to have a provisional driving licence and are encouraged to take a safety test on the app.

“The scooters are also fully controllable, can be slowed down, are limited to 15.5mph and are pretty visible and robust.

Once user details are registered in the app, users can just scan and go. Photo: Kirsty Edmonds.

“The incentives in the app to use them safely and properly are also really important.

“You can probably get from one side of town to the other quicker on one of these than in a car so these benefits will become apparent quickly.

“There will be people who abuse them, and we may see one or two where they shouldn’t be, but the team will be able to deal with that.”

To find out more and to locate your nearest scooter, download the Voi app.

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