Voi e-scooter trials across Northamptonshire EXTENDED as end of initial period looms

The trials have been extended indefinitely and will now be reviewed on a ‘rolling basis’

Wednesday, 4th August 2021, 8:25 am

Several trials for rentable electric scooters which first hit Northamptonshire last year have been extended.

Voi launched in Northampton on September 3, 2020 and has since expanded to other parts of the county including Kettering, Corby, Rushden, Higham and Wellingborough.

The scooters were originally due to be in place for 12 months - ending on September 3 this year - as part of a trial.

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The Voi rentable e-scooter trial has been extended.

However, West Northamptonshire Council has now confirmed the trials have been extended and the scooters are here to stay - for now, at least.

Despite launching at a later date, the trials in the other towns governed by North Northamptonshire Council will also be extended.

The move comes after the Department of Transport wrote to both councils to invite them to extend the trials, which they have both accepted.

There is not a specific date to which the trials have been extended to, rather they will be reviewed on a ‘rolling basis’.

The scooters first launched in Northampton and then other towns across the county followed.

A spokesman speaking on behalf of both councils, said: “The decision to extend the trial is a matter for each council involved in the scheme.

“West Northamptonshire Council and North Northamptonshire Council are working together on the scheme in Northamptonshire, and while it was possible for each to make different decisions, both have written to the Department for Transport accepting their recent invitation to extend the trial.

“While trials in other towns started after the Northampton scheme, the decision to extend the trial has been made collectively.

“The trial will now be reviewed on a rolling basis and if the data continues to rise in a positive trajectory, as it has done so far, the scheme may be adopted permanently subject to consultation.”

The company has introduced measures such as parking racks and post ride pictures in an attempt to improve safety and parking compliance.

According to the company running the trials, there have been almost 750,000 rides, just in Northampton, since the launch, amounting to more than 1.2 million miles ridden.

Despite the uptake, there have also been many complaints raised about anti-social riding, underage riding, where scooters are parked or left and the dangers they pose to other pedestrians.

A spokesman for Voi added: "Since the launch of the trials nearly 12 months ago, more and more people have adopted this new green mode of transport to connect to public transport or to get to work.

“So far, there have been nearly 750,000 rides on Voi scooters, travelling more than 1.2 million miles in total, which has replaced a quarter of a million car journeys and saved an estimated 130 tonnes of CO2 (equivalent units) from being released into the atmosphere.

“Our relationship with local councils, as well as the police, across trial towns in Northamptonshire is an integral part of Voi’s ambition to change the places we live for the better.

“Since the beginning of the trials, these relationships have borne fruit with better rider behaviour, parking compliance, as well as reductions in misuse, following improvements in the reporting of anti-social behaviour, the introduction of more in-app and on-scooter safety features, parking racks and the rollout of educational events for users in the area.

“Voi will continue to work closely with all partners to ensure more residents can benefit from fewer cars, cleaner air and convenient, flexible transport solutions.

“Voi continues to improve its services as we receive feedback from councillors, emergency services, and members of the public.”

Although there was no formal public consultation about continuing the trial, the council spokesman says the councils, partners and Voi ‘welcome feedback at any time.’

He added: “We will also be working with Voi as part of the extension to increase compliance levels.

“The council is also mindful that stopping the trial could lead to an increase in the use of unregulated private scooters.

“These are currently illegal for use other than on private land.”