16 Sep 20

UK halts e-scooter trial after five days due to safety concerns

A 12-month trial of electric scooters in Coventry, UK, by e-scooter rental specialist Voi, has been halted after only five days due to safety concerns.

The year-long experiment is one of a number of programmes across the country to trial e-scooter rental. E-scooters are currently illegal in the UK, but the Government was keen to bring forward trials scheduled for 2021 to this year in order to take pressure off city centre public transport during the coronavirus.

The controlled trial in Coventry started last Thursday and was paused on Monday after concerns about users riding the e-scooters on pavements and in pedestrianised areas.

E-scooters proved popular

Sweden-based Voi had been appointed to operate the e-scooter rental service, and the company had initially deployed 200 e-scooters. These had proved very popular with about 5,000 rides undertaken in just five days.

A spokesperson for Coventry City Council said: “The trial has been introduced to identify the safest way that e-scooters can be used going forward so it’s right to pause the scheme if concerns are being raised. The initial take-up has been encouraging but we need to ensure that the safety of all people using the city centre is protected and that the e-scooters are used in the proper way, hence our decision to pause the pilot until systems are improved.”

The Council is now working with Voi to find ways to restart the trial in a safe way.

Potential for 10,000 e-scooters

Voi runs e-scooter rental operations in more than 45 cities across 11 countries, and has over 4 million users. The company said that 20% of short journeys could be replaced by low-carbon e-scooters and had planned to deploy up to 10,000 e-scooters in Birmingham and Coventry over the course of the UK trial. 

A spokesperson for Voi regretted the pause in its service, but said it remains committed: “To deliver a safe and successful trial that meets the council's objectives and confirms micromobility as a sustainable, safe and attractive mode for Coventry's citizens.”

Photo: Voi

Authored by: Jonathan Manning