Kent County Council, Canterbury City Council and Bird have teamed up to bring e-scooters to Canterbury.
Kent County Council has been successful in bidding for a 12-month electric scooter pilot, with the Department for Transport giving the green light for the trial earlier this week. The council appointed Bird following a competitive tender process.
The scooters will give people in Canterbury an environmentally friendly alternative to taking a car, and the trial is also aimed at helping people get around town while remaining socially distant from others.
Initially, the trial will run on a controlled set route serving students from the University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University, helping them travel between the campuses. Once successful, the trial zone will be opened up to a broader area.
Michael Payne, Kent County Council cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “This year-long trial will initially see up to 100 electric scooters in Canterbury, located on the campuses of the University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University. At first, the service will be limited to staff and students at both universities with the aim of slowly opening the scheme up to the wider community.
“The trial will help us establish how the scooters are used and how they interact with other highway users, though they will be limited to a set route between the two campuses. It is our hope that eventually, everyone will be able to enjoy the benefits of sustainable travel as part of their commute, offering an alternative to car travel, with an ambition to help reduce congestion and improve air quality in Canterbury. Ultimately, the scheme will help inform Government as to whether this form of travel will be sanctioned on the highway network and if so, in what way.
“During our trial, the e-scooters will use the same road space as bicycles and will not be allowed on the pavement or outside of the trial area. This is in line with the guidelines that the Government has indicated. Riders will also need to be over 18 and required to hold a full or provisional driving licence.”
Bird has also worked with the council to geofence (a digital boundary) the approved route and the scooters will power down if they cross the boundary. The operator also has in-app and in-person safety training and will host safe riding events where it will give away free helmets to riders. The scooters are GPS enabled so the company can keep track of the scooters and ensure they are ridden and parked correctly.
Leader of Canterbury City Council, councillor Ben Fitter-Harding, said: “We’re pleased the bid for a trial e-scooter scheme in Canterbury has been successful, having submitted a letter of support alongside the county’s council’s application.
“Projects such as this encourage people to get out of their cars and can make a contribution to improving air quality. We look forward to seeing the trial in operation and understanding the potential for such a scheme to be expanded across the city.”
Caroline Hazlehurst, head of EMEA operations, Bird, added: “We’re delighted to have the opportunity to provide our services in Canterbury. We’re very much looking forward to helping the city’s student population get between campuses without adding to congestion.
“One of the biggest issues modern towns and cities face is increasing congestion and decreasing air quality. Bird’s mission is to partner with communities to help solve these problems by getting people out of cars and onto environmentally friendly sharable electric scooters. We’re very much looking forward to launching in the coming weeks.”