Northamptonshire Police, Northamptonshire County Council and e-scooter company Voi have all been working together on Northampton town’s e-scooter trial.
The trial, which saw 300 e-scooters placed in Northampton town centre at the beginning of September, aims to encourage a new mode of transport that reduces the town’s carbon footprint and gives commuters, particularly shift workers, more flexibility in their journeys to and from work.
The scooters are paid for by the minute via an app and have been placed in busy locations such as the train station, bus station and the university campus, in a bid to encourage bus, taxi or car users to jump on a scooter instead.
Since the beginning of the trial and as a result of feedback from the police, the council and members of the public, a number of changes have been implemented by Voi to enhance the safety of the scheme, including visible number plates, a curfew when the scooters will stop working, and a system whereby nuisance riders are unable to access any of the scooters.
PC Dave Lee from Northamptonshire Police’s Safer Roads Team said: “When these scooters were initially introduced into the town centre, it is fair to say that we were getting quite a lot of reports regarding people misusing them.
“However, since the trial has progressed, we have been able to work with Voi to iron out some of these initial issues and ensure that the right people are using the scooters for the right reasons, as well as ensuring there is a system in place to enforce against nuisance riders.”
Northamptonshire Police, the council and Voi now have weekly meetings to discuss any issues that have arisen as well as any changes any of the three agencies think need to be implemented.
“This scheme has some great potential and we have already been hearing positive stories from commuters and other members of the public about how the scooters have had a positive impact on their lives,” PC Lee added. “We will be carrying out operations in partnership with Voi and the Council to ensure that people are using these scooters in the correct manner and to enforce against those who aren’t.”
Since the scheme started, three people have been issued temporary suspensions of their Voi account, 13 have been issued permanent suspensions and 54 people have been stopped and given words of advice.
Lucy Yu, director of Public Policy, UKI and Benelux, said: “Voi is committed to working with Northamptonshire Police and the County Council to ensure a successful trial, meeting the council’s transport objectives and creating a positive experience for riders, pedestrians and the community. We work closely and responsibly with all city partners and other local organisations everywhere we go.
“In response to the early observations of the service in Northampton, we swiftly introduced market-leading innovations, such as adding number plates on all scooters to identify riders, capping rides at 12.5mph and deploying more ambassadors on the streets to help people and monitor activity.
“As a result, we’re already seeing improvements and we’ll continue to work closely to identify further service enhancements. To date, more than 8,000 riders and nearly 60,000 rides have taken place and we expect many other riders to adhere and experience this new carbon-neutral way of travelling around town.”
Councillor Jason Smithers, cabinet member for highways and place for Northamptonshire County Council, added: “Northamptonshire is committed to improving access to greener, more sustainable, more affordable transport for the benefit of everyone and the Voi e-scooter partnership has been a step in the right direction for achieving this. Since the launch of the e-scooters, nearly 60,000 rides have taken place in the local area, with nearly 70% of rides carried out by repeat customers – an indication that uptake has been very successful. Additionally, 26 jobs have been created through the trial.
“Of course, we always welcome feedback from our residents and are taking their thoughts into account when it comes to areas of improvement. Various measures, such as more “slow speed zones”, a curfew between 10pm and 4am, alerts on the Voi app (reminding users of the rules) and the addition of registration plates have already been introduced in response to concerns raised.
“We are continuing to work closely with Voi, Northamptonshire Police and the Borough Council to identify where further improvements can be made and to also remove any individuals who are not adhering to the rules.”