From today, Rushden, Higham Ferrers and Wellingborough will host a Voi e-scooter trial.
The trial will give its residents a new, green, accessible and socially distanced way of travel, particularly useful for journeys from one to three miles.
While Covid restrictions are in place, e-scooters enable key workers to make the necessary journeys without going on public transport or jumping in a car.
Initially, there will be 50 scooters available to rent in Rushden, Higham Ferrers and Wellingborough, from 04am to 11pm. To be eligible to ride a scooter, users need to be 18 years old and over and have at least a provisional driving license, which they will have to upload to the Voi app when they first register. The app is available for free on Apple App Store or Google Play.
Voi’s carbon-neutral e-scooters will be available to rent on High Street and Higham Road in Rushden and Higham Ferrers. In Wellingborough, they will be placed in the town centre, near the train station and by the Isebrook Hospital and Park Farm Industrial Estate.
Voi shared e-scooters will cost £1 to unlock and then £0.20 per minute of usage. Voi also offers 24-hour (at £10) and 30-day (at £40) subscriptions, allowing users to take an unlimited number of rides at a fixed rate. The company also offers discounts for students and those on a low income. Whilst the lockdown is in place, Voi is offering free rides for NHS and Emergency Service workers.
Safety is a priority for Voi, and its operations exceed the safety requirements required by the Government. For instance, Voi e-scooter speeds will be capped at 10 miles per hour. The company also worked closely with the local authorities to create geofenced areas, including slow riding, no riding, and incentivised parking areas, to ensure riders and other road users’ safety.
The e-scooter operator actively promotes user education and encourages all its users to take Voi’s accredited, e-scooter digital traffic school, RideLikeVoila, which has trained over half a million users. In addition, the company also provides regular in-app safety information to riders.
While the pandemic continues, Voi is committed to upholding the council’s health and safety policy by providing riders with safety and COVID-19 information and advice via its app. Voi’s e-scooters are cleaned and disinfected regularly to ensure that they cannot become a source of infection. They are also fitted with handlebars with a special material that inhibits the transmission of viruses and bacteria, thus offering antibacterial, bactericidal and antiviral protection. Voi encourages its users to use hand sanitiser and wear gloves.
As part of the trial, Voi and the local authorities will engage with vulnerable groups to make sure the overall community has the possible experience with the introduction of this convenient new mode of transport.
Moving forward, Northamptonshire County Council will continue to work with Voi to look at how e-scooters can form part of the evolving transport infrastructure in the region.
Jason Smithers, Cabinet Member for Highways and Place for Northamptonshire County Council, said: “With our trials in Northampton and Kettering already providing a real boost in improving access to greener, more sustainable and affordable transport, we’re keen to extend the e-scooter programme to include Wellingborough, Rushden and Higham Ferrers.
“Voi has excelled in bringing these schemes to life across Northamptonshire, and we’re very pleased to continue working with them to deliver major transformation in our county. We have every confidence the e-scooters will be just as popular in these towns as they have been in Northampton and Kettering."
Councillor Martin Griffiths, Leader of the Borough Council of Wellingborough, said: “I have followed the trials in other towns with interest and I think it is important to monitor this trial very closely in Wellingborough, Rushden and Higham Ferrers.
“After 1st April the new North Northamptonshire Unitary Council will take on responsibility for this project and all aspects of highways and transportation, and we need to assist them in such trials to establish the long term sustainability and potential for this mode of transport.”
Cllr Pam Whiting, Leader of Higham Ferrers Town Council, said: “E-scooters provide a clean and green alternative to public transport and car-sharing for those travelling to work and undertaking essential journeys. The Town Council are interested in schemes that aim to reduce the impact of climate change and are therefore keen to see the outcome of this trial in Rushden and Higham Ferrers.”
Rushden Town Council, said: “As a progressive town, Rushden Town Council cautiously welcomes the e-scooter trial. We understand the benefits this carbon-neutral, socially distanced mode of travel could bring to the town’s residents and visitors and hope for a successful trial phase working with both Voi and Northampton County Council.”
Richard Corbett, Regional General Manager of UK, Ireland and Benelux for Voi, said: “We are delighted to launch our e-scooters in Wellingborough, Rushden and Higham Ferrers to support the local community to move around safely while complying with the current socially distancing measures in place.
“E-scooters are a green, flexible and affordable mode of transport, and they can support the green recovery of our cities and towns.”