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MICRO-MOBILITY, MAJOR BENEFITS: VOI E-SCOOTERS TRANSFORM TRANSPORTATION IN BRISTOL AND BATH

So long, age of the automobile! A new, fast-growing set of services is not only challenging cars’ dominance in transportation, but showing that good things come in small packages. Electric scooters and bikes, as well as other two- and three-wheeled vehicle types, are shrinking the physical footprint required to move people over short distances, while still offering freedom of movement, speed, and convenience.

Micro-mobility, as these services are known collectively, has the potential to better connect people with public transport, reduce reliance on private cars, and make the most of existing roadways, all while reducing carbon emissions (especially important, considering transport accounts for 30% of greenhouse gas emissions in Europe). And it’s clearly resonating with users, given its rapid adoption over the past couple of years. The micromobility market will reach an estimated value of over £86 billion by 2030. According to a June 2020 consumer survey by Voi Technology, a Swedish micro-mobility operator that’s now the UK’s number-one provider of e-scooters, 14% of its users are replacing car trips with e-scooters, up from 11% last year. Between 2019 and 2020, 42% of users combined e-scooters with public transport, highlighting a clear increase in micro-mobility conversion and shift in mobility habits.

Voi Technology is proud to be at the helm of that shift. Voi was founded in 2018 with a vision to improve the way people move around congested urban centres by offering e-scooter fleets as a cleaner, affordable alternative to cars. Voi currently provides shared e-scooter services to more than 50 cities in 11 countries across Europe, where the company has served over 35 million rides to 6 million users.

Drawing on its experience in working with local authorities, scaling e-scooter operations, and committing to the safety and education of all road users to advance micro-mobility, Voi is now bringing this new form of environmentally friendly transport to the UK, where it operates in 17 cities and counting as a part of the Department of Transport (DfT) e-scooter trials. The DfT legalised 12-month e-scooter trials in July 2020 to support a green restart of the economy following the coronavirus pandemic and to provide a socially distant form of transportation that would ease the burden on public transport.

Voi began operations in Bristol and Bath on 29 October, 2020, and since the trial began, citizens have really taken to riding around on two electric wheels. The service has expanded beyond the cities’ centres to includeSouth Gloucester and North Bath. To date, the region boasts over 43,000 unique riders (7,700 Bath, 36,000 Bristol) who’ve taken over 22,000 rides in Bath and a whopping 155,000 in Bristol. Collectively, they’ve travelled approximately 300,000 miles in the West of England — that’s the equivalent distance of circumventing the Earth 12 times!

As you would expect, a new form of transport takes a while to bed in; there are inevitably some challenges that need to be addressed. Voi could not succeed without aligning its mission and vision with the regions in which it operates, and the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) has been an ideal partner to improve transport across the region and provide sustainable, long-term solutions to help people move around more easily.

Scooting through coronavirus
The coronavirus crisis has had a huge impact on the way we travel. Together with WECA, Voi is helping to change travel habits during the pandemic to improve air quality and traffic flow. As they operate in the open air, e-scooters are naturally suited to socially distant travel, especially for short urban journeys and the first and last mile of transit. Voi e-scooters undergo strict daily cleaning and maintenance, and Voi has offered free rides to all NHS and emergency service workers during the lockdown to make commuting easier.

Innovating new sustainable travel
The region’s e-scooter trial with Voi was one of the first projects to be rolled out following the coronavirus outbreak. Bristol and Bath are also the first cities where Voi is piloting a new innovation: long-term e-scooter rentals, which offer users a practical, flexible, and cost-effective alternative for riders who want to use the scooter daily as their main mode of transport. With long-term rentals, users will be able to ride the scooters throughout the WECA region. Currently, over 100 users are enrolled in the programme.

A new way ahead
As more people turn to micro-mobility to get to places, Voi is investing in solutions in WECA to make e-scooters safer and better for everyone, from implementing new parking racks to ensure scooters are parked in the best locations to introducing its safest e-scooter model to date, the Voiager 4, to the region this Spring. E-scooters are poised to become a key feature in the transportation landscape for commuting, deliveries, errands, and simply getting from A to B. Here’s to the new green transportation revolution!

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