Voi, one of Europe’s fastest-growing e-scooter companies, has been handed an exclusive contract to bring its revolutionary transport to the West Midlands, in the UK. This news comes during the race between e-scooter startups to win as many trial contracts across the UK as possible.
As we recently reported, riding e-scooters in public areas (such as roads, cycle lanes and pavements) was illegal in the UK due to safety concerns. This summer, though, with the continued presence of COVID-19 driving the need for more ‘socially distanced’ methods of urban transport, a series of e-scooter trails were approved for acceleration across the UK’s regions. Each regional authority is now permitted to draw up contracts with the companies that they see fit, for 12 month long trials. This month Irish startup Zipp Mobility was approved in some regions, and German startup TIER mobility is also in the race.
During the 12-month trial period, e-scooter riders will be required to provide a valid UK Driving License to participate and will be asked to provide feedback on their experiences using the vehicles. The purpose of the trial is to collect valuable data to ensure wider roll out of e-scooter services are as safe for and beneficial to the wider public as possible.
Voi will work hand in hand with Transport for West Midlands to bring an exciting new way to travel to the 5.9 million residents across Birmingham, Coventry, Kenilworth, Sandwell (West Bromwich), Solihull, Walsall, Wolverhampton and Warwickshire. The trial will cover the largest market in Europe awarded by tender to a single operator.
Voi’s distinctive coral e-scooters will be on the streets of Coventry and Birmingham in September, arriving in other locations soon after. The West Midlands partnership follows on the heels of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, and Northamptonshire which have also chosen Voi to launch e-scooters and e-bike sharing schemes in their areas. Voi now operates across 10 UK authorities, having launched in the UK only in July. Its first e-scooters will be available for hire on the streets of Northamptonshire today. Across Europe as a whole, Voi now operates in more than 45 cities across 11 countries.
To make sure that e-scooters are introduced as safely as possible, Voi has gone over and above Government requirements on age limits, insurance and rider verification. Voi will provide in person and online rider education, provide rider identity verification and will make #RideLikeVoila – our online traffic school – available to users in the West Midlands. Voi’s latest e-scooter model, featuring indicators, will be introduced to the West Midlands operation in the coming months.
Voi is also committed to upholding West Midlands Combined Authority’s health and safety policy to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the region. Voi is adding Shieldex Copper-Tape to the handlebars of its e-scooters, which kill 99.98% of coronavirus on contact, and all e-scooters will be disinfected every 24 hours. Voi is also providing COVID-19 information and advice in its app.
Fredrik Hjelm, co-founder and CEO of Voi Technology, said: “We are delighted to announce that we will soon be offering the Voi e-scooter service in the West Midlands – a region that has played a significant role in the history of transport, from cars to rail and aviation. Today’s transport innovations are all about helping people to get out of their cars and making greener choices.”
With schools opening and normal activities begin slowly to resume, the need for quick, convenient and COVID-safe transport is urgent. City dwellers enjoyed quiet streets during lockdown and many do not want to see congestion and pollution levels increase again. Additionally, outside of London, the West Midlands has historically had one of the worst congestion ratings in the UK. These factors have undoubtedly led to the region being listed as one of the top five in the UK that will benefit most from micro mobility services, from shared bikes, to e-bikes and e-scooters according to research from transport analytics consultancy INRIX.