FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - Voi in Northamptonshire

Page information: 

Section 1 - General information 

Section 2- Safety 

Section 3 - Sustainability 

 

Last updated 12th July 2021. 

Section 1. General information 

What is Voi?
Voi is the fastest-growing European micro-mobility operator working with Europe’s cities to offer efficient, affordable transportation solutions, including e-scooters. Founded in 2018, Voi currently operates in 50+ cities in 11 countries. To date, Voi has served 30 million rides and has over 6 million regular users.
 

How can e-scooters help to solve the transport problems in towns and cities?
E-scooters are just the start of a revolution in how we move around cities. E-scooters allow for personal point-to-point travel, which means that a rider is not tied to a timetable or a route. During the pandemic, they also provide a method of travel that allows for social distancing. They are particularly useful for connecting the last or first mile of travel, when there can be a temptation to use a car or taxi and for journeys of 1 to 3 miles, which make up 60% of all road trips in the U.K. Voi’s aim is that e-scooter use should be affordable, particularly for those who need to go farther than they can walk and don’t have access to a car.
 

Is there demand for e-scooters in the U.K.?
Even before coronavirus, councils were talking about e-scooter sharing because they want to get people out of cars and to use low-carbon transport. More than 50 cities and towns expressed an interest in running e-scooter pilots, including London, Liverpool, the West Midlands, Manchester, Newcastle, Cambridge, Milton Keynes, and Southampton and trials are now live in 32 areas. We know that many U.K. residents have tried Voi in other countries and asked when the service will launch in the U.K.

What are the main benefits of e-scooters for U.K. cities?

  • Get people out of cars.
  • Provide a socially distanced, outdoor mode of transport.

  • Provide convenient, affordable and flexible travel for point-to-point journeys, or for the first or last mile to public transport.
  • Lower environmental footprint, with huge potential to improve air quality and reduce climate change.
     

Why did Northamptonshire apply for scooter trials? What regulations do e-scooters follow?
To support a “green” restart of local travel and help mitigate the effects of reduced public transport capacity, the Department for Transport (DfT) fast-tracked trials of rental e-scooters. E-scooters offer the potential for fast, clean and inexpensive travel that can also help ease the burden on transport networks and allow for social distancing. As of July 2020, local and combined authorities were able apply to the DfT to host an e-scooter trial. Northamptonshire County Council was one of these authorities. As the government undergoes a transport revolution, Voi is pleased to support this goal.

Safety remains the top priority for e-scooter usage. Regulations allow e-scooters to use the same road spaces as bikes, including cycle lanes. A trial e-scooter in Northamptonshire may be used on the roads, and in cycle lanes within the approved trial geographical area, unless otherwise authorised by the local area and as signposted to users. Riding on pavements is strictly prohibited. There are offences and penalties for using an e-scooter illegally. Users can be fined up to £300, have 6 points added to their driving licence, and the e-scooter can be impounded. Voi employs a variety of measures to identify misuse and block users responsible.

With there no longer being a County Council, North Northamptonshire Council is now the host authority for the trial, and is working closely with West Northamptonshire Council.

How does Voi help Northamptonshire?

  • Provides an efficient, affordable, socially distant mode of transport.
  • Provides a green, carbon-neutral transportation solution to lower the cities’ emissions and improve air quality.
  • Provides convenient and flexible travel for point-to-point journeys, or for the first or last mile to public transport. and support the aims of the wider Smart Move Northamptonshire initiative.
  • Creates new job opportunities, which is especially welcome during the difficult employment market due to the pandemic.

How can people offer feedback on the trial?

Voi encourages feedback from users and the public. Please contact [email protected].

How will the trial be evaluated? How is it deemed a success?
The Department for Transport (DfT) will evaluate all the U.K. trials separately through its own monitoring and evaluation exercise. This is due to complete in March 2022.

What happens at the end of the trial?
After assessment and pending approval from the Department of Transport (DfT) to legalise rental e-scooter schemes long term, cities will have the opportunity to broker contracts with e-scooter operators.

When did the e-scooter trials start  in Northamptonshire?
The Northamptonshire e-scooter trial launched first in Northampton on 3rd September 2020. The Kettering trial launched on 10 December 2020.

Trials in Corby, Rushden / Higham Ferrers and Wellingborough launched in February / March 2021. 

How can users tell the difference between Voi e-scooters and other e-scooters?

Voi scooters are easily identifiable by their distinctive coral colour. “Voi” is also emblazoned in white on the scooter’s shaft. It is worth noting that Voi e-scooters are the only legal scooters that can be used on public roads and spaces in Northamptonshire; the use of private e-scooters remains illegal, unless on private land with the land owners' permission.  

How many Voi e-scooters are deployed in Northamptonshire?
The current fleet size is over 1000 e-scooters across the towns of Northampton, Corby, Kettering, Higham Ferrers, Rushden and Wellingborough.

Voi will be guided by what areas need and work closely with them to make sure that we only put e-scooters that are needed, where they are needed. Voi will cater to demand but always be careful not to overwhelm locations. The local Voi team will relocate e-scooters throughout the day (“re-balancing the fleet”) to ensure that they are available where users want them. 

What are the hours of operations for the scooters?
Scooters will be available for hire 4 a.m.–11 p.m. in Northamptonshire. These hours were selected based on discussions between the councils and Voi.
 

How do Voi e-scooters integrate with public transport?
Voi is currently in talks with various transport operators in Northamptonshire. Voi’s aim is to integrate fully with transport services across the region, and it is working to achieve that.

Currently, Zipabout's first and last mile feature (Zipabout’s personalised information service), integrating all passenger transport options, includes Voi e-scooters, and encourages passengers to try new and sustainable ways to begin and end their journey.

Are e-scooters permitted on trains and buses?

No.

Can a rider keep a Voi e-scooter in their private residence?
No. The e-scooters are property of Voi, and they are part of a public rental scheme. When not in use they must be available for other members of the public to use. Misuse of e-scooters can lead to fines, bans, or other forms of prosecution.

Are private scooters also allowed?
No. Trials are limited to rental e-scooters. This allows trials to take place in a controlled manner while their safety and other effects are assessed. It is illegal to ride a private e-scooter on public roads/spaces in the U.K, unless on private land or with express permission of a landowner.
 

Will riders need a driving licence? Why?
Yes. To ride an e-scooter in a pilot area, a rider will need a provisional driving licence. This is mandated by the Department of Transport (DfT), and Voi also believes that it helps ensure people know the rules of the road and will be more responsible riders. Provisional licenses can be obtained in one week, through an online application. Riders cannot begin their first ride without first verifying their licence in the app. Verification is performed by Onfido, a trusted technology that verify people’s identities using a photo-based identity document, a selfie and artificial intelligence algorithms.
 

What is the minimum age to ride an e-scooter?

The Department of Transport (DfT) requires users to be at least 16 years old. In Northamptonshire, a user needs to be at least 18 years old to ride an e-scooter.

What is the maximum speed of a Voi e-scooter?
Speeds are capped at 15.5 mph, per U.K. regulation. However, the Northamptonshire trial will be capped at 12.4mph and at the start of the launch in new trial areas, the maximum speed will be 10 mph. This speed limit will increase as the trial progresses up to 12.4mph, but it’s been put in place initially for safety reasons and to help riders feel more comfortable on the scooters. It is worth noting that private e-scooters — which are illegal to ride unless on private land or with express permission of a landowner — can travel at much higher speeds.

How do riders start using an e-scooter?
To get started, a user needs to download the Voi app from the App Store or Google Play to create an account. A user can locate an available scooter in the app. When the user is standing next to the scooter, they can unlock it with the app. Visit www.voiscooters.com for further information.
 

What does it cost to use a Voi e-scooter?
It costs £1 to unlock the scooter and then £0.20 per minute of usage. Voi also offers 24-hour (at £10) and 30-day (at £40) subscriptions that allows users to take an unlimited number of rides at a fixed rate. The subscriptions can be purchased in the app. There are also special rates for students, NHS and emergency services personnel, and those on low incomes. There is more information about these special rates and how to apply at https://www.voiscooters.com.
 

Are users insured when using Voi e-scooters?
As required by U.K. legislation, Voi users have motor third-party insurance. Voi has also decided to go beyond the Department of Transport's requirements and has included personal accident coverage insurance for all e-scooter trips.

What is “geofencing”? How does it work for the e-scooters?
Geofencing is a technology that uses GPS to create a virtual geographic boundary, enabling software to trigger a response when a mobile device enters or leaves a particular area. When a scooter goes beyond a certain boundary, the e-scooter’s speed will reduce gradually. Voi do not stop the scooter’s motor completely, because this could be dangerous for the rider. In a no-ride zone, the motor is slowed to 3 mph (walking pace). It is not put to zero, because Voi want to make it easier for users to return the scooter back to the operating zone. In a slow-ride zone, the scooters are capped at 5 mph. Users can see their locations and operating zone in the in-app map.

Which road will riders be able to use in the trial zone?
Regulations allow e-scooters to use the same road spaces as bicycles, including cycle lanes. A trial e-scooter in Northamptonshire may be used on the roads and in cycle lanes within the approved trial geographical area.

Riding on pavements is strictly prohibited. There are offences and penalties for using an e-scooter illegally. Users can be fined up to £300, have 6 points added to their driving licence, and the e-scooter can be impounded. Voi employs a variety of measures to identify misuse and block users responsible.

Where are the slow-ride, no-ride, and parking zones located?

Maps of the trial area, including parking, slow-ride, and no-ride zones, are all located in the app. Please consult the Voi app for the most current information.

Will all scooters have to be parked in racks?
No, Voi uses a “free-floating” parking approach in Northamptonshire. Users can park in most places in the trial zone, except no-park and no-ride zones, which are clearly marked in the in-app map.

For more information on parking please see the below question.

How do riders park an e-scooter properly?

There is advice in the app about how to park properly. Park the scooter where it’s accessible for other users (never indoors or in a courtyard). The e-scooter should never block pathways, accessibility ramps, driveways, crosswalks, or cars. Please make sure you are considerate of others when parking the e-scooter, and for example if parking on a pavement consider if a pushchair or wheelchair will still easily be able to use the pavement.  In Northamptonshire, users will generally be able to end trip anywhere within the trial zone as long as they follow the general parking guidance (such as leaving pavement and footpaths accessible, etc.).

There are some incentivised parking zones (indicated in green in the app map); if a rider parks an e-scooter in an incentivised zone, they will earn a credit towards their next ride. There are also a few designated no-park zones where parking will not be permitted; this information will be communicated to the user via the in-app map.

Voi have also recently introduced a new feature which was originally trialled in Northamptonshire.  All users must take a photo at the end of their ride to show how the e-scooter is parked.  Bad parking, which causes an obstruction, or an unclear photo, will lead to a warning and, if repeated, fines for the user.

Can a user keep a scooter overnight, so they can use it again first thing in the morning?
Voi e-scooters are not allowed on private property. If a rider is caught “storing” an e-scooter on private property, they will be fined. It is possible to park an e-scooter close to one’s home, provided the parking area is within the trial zone and on public land, and then retrieve it the next morning. However, there is no guarantee that the scooter will remain in place; other riders are free to use it. E-scooters cannot be reserved.

Are e-scooters permitted in heavily pedestrianised areas? Are some areas restricted? Why have some areas been designated “no-scoot” zones?

Voi and the local authority continue to work together to define and refine areas where it is safe and convenient to use e-scooters. Scooters are generally not permitted in pedestrian-heavy zones, and there are some restricted areas. For the most up-to-date information, please consult the maps in the Voi app. No-ride zones have been put in place for safety reasons; sometimes they also reflect private land.
 

E-bikes?
E-bikes were launched in Kettering in January 2020. It is hoped that e-bikes will also be available in the other operational areas as part of the trial.

Are the regulations, trial zones, pricing structures, etc. the same for e-bikes as e-scooters?
Yes, all the information about use, regulations, pricing, zoning, etc. also applies to Voi e-bikes.

 

Screenshots of map taken from the Voi app

Section 2. Safety 

How can someone ride a Voi e-scooter safely?
Voi believes in pushing safety through rider education. New riders can earn credits from completing modules of Voi’s Ride Like Voila traffic school. To date, more than 500K users have participated in the traffic school. Riders can also learn important tips from the Voi app.

There should only be one rider per scooter. Riders should follow the Highway Code, they are encouraged to wear a helmet, must avoid riding on pavements, abide by speed limits, and keep vigilant of their surroundings.

What is Voi doing to ensure e-scooter safety in the U.K.?
Safety is the number-one priority. Voi is continually working with its partner cities and regions, including Northamptonshire, to assess and improve services. In the U.K., Voi is introducing new measures to ensure safe riding:

  • Increasing the number of on-the-ground staff to answer questions, help people, and monitor activity.
  • Increase collaboration with the police to ensure there is better reporting of riders who flout the rules.
  • Do more to keep pedestrians and riders separate by updating the slow-ride and no-ride zones.
  • Reinforce the message that e-scooters (just like bikes) should NOT be ridden on the pavements.
  • Introduce clear number plates on e-scooters to help identify rogue riders. Increase riding education.

  • Giving away free helmets.
  • Introduce greater deterrents to unsafe riding:
    • Charge users a premium for abandoning or parking a scooter in a no-parking zone.
    • Block users who are abusing the licensing rules, such as enabling underage riders.
    • Anyone caught using e-scooters illegally could face criminal proceedings. For misuse, 6 points could be added to a user’s driving licence. 
screenshot of safety message on voi app

Does Voi ban users for flouting regulations?
Voi takes riding safely and legally very seriously. If Voi receives a confirmed report of an offence from the police, then Voi will always seek to take action against the rider responsible, such as issuing an account suspension for 7 or 30 days or permanently removing the user from the service. To do this, Voi will ask the police for supporting information, including the date, time, and place of the offence, and, if possible, the scooter’s reference code. All Voi e-scooters have a unique identification code on the back and side of the e-scooter to make identification easier.

Will riders need to wear a helmet?
Helmets are not mandatory, but it is safer to wear one, just as one might when cycling. Voi believes in education and rewarding safe, responsible behaviour. During the trial, Voi is also committed to distributing free helmets to users in Northamptonshire.

Can people ride e-scooters in the dark?

Yes. Voi e-scooters are equipped with both front and rear lights, as well as a bell, to aid in e-scooter visibility for the rider and other road users. Voi has assembled a list of advice and tips for riding at night on its blog.
 

How can riders keep safe from coronavirus when using an e-scooter?
Since e-scooters operate in the open air, they are a much safer choice for commuters than other forms of public transport at this time. To make sure the fleet is safe, we have increased our cleaning and maintenance frequencies. Voi scooters are fitted with handlebars with a material that inhibits the transmission of viruses and bacteria, thus offering antibacterial, bactericidal and antiviral protection. All scooters are disinfected regularly. Voi is also providing COVID-19 information and advice via its app. We encourage riders to use gloves if that makes them feel more comfortable.

How will e-scooters be kept clean while COVID-19 is a risk?
Rider safety is the number-one priority. The scooters are disinfected regularly, including every time a scooter is handled for a battery swap, re-balancing, or maintenance. Voi uses high-quality anti-viral cleansing agents that last up to 24 hours. Voi’s mechanics and logistics teams are equipped with sanitary kits, including masks, gloves, and anti-bacterial gel, and they follow social-distancing guidelines. Using reputable third parties, Voi take viral and bacterial tests of randomized samples of scooters to make sure they are keeping things clean. They educate their users about how to keep themselves safe and encourage them to use hand sanitizer/wash their hands and wear gloves.
 

What will Voi do to keep streets safe from e-scooter clutter?
Voi and the Council will work together to make sure there are clearly designated parking areas for e-scooters, through technology and incentives. Voi manage their fleet daily to make sure that it is not causing clutter and will be able to quickly identify any problem areas where we can look at initiatives to prevent it happening in the first place. Racks have been introduced in busy areas.
 

E-scooter users travel at high speeds and pose a danger in traffic for other road users. How are they safe?

  • Nationally, Voi’s e-scooters are capped at a maximum speed of 15.5 mph, per U.K. regulation, however in Northamptonshire the speed cap is lower than this. Regular bicycles often reach the same speed or higher.
  • During the introduction phase in new operational areas, Voi will cap scooter speeds at 5 to 10 mph, depending on the operating area.
  • In Northamptonshire Voi e-scooters can travel at a maximum speed of 12.4 mph, and in many areas will travel at 5 mph. 
  • Voi have the ability to implement slow-speed zones in selected areas, where the e-scooters automatically slow down to walking pace.
  • It is also important to differentiate between private and shared e-scooters. Private ones often reach much higher speeds, even though their use is not currently permitted.
     

Won’t e-scooters just be a menace on the streets and dangerous for some road users, e.g. the visually impaired?
It's Voi’s role to educate riders about traffic rules using technology and pop-ups. Safety is always the number-one priority and Voi tackle this through rider education and technology. Voi are the first e-scooter company to offer an online traffic school, Ride Like Voila. Voi are working with councils to control the number of scooters on the streets and their locations. Voi can incentivise people to park them correctly, and they employ local ambassadors to educate users on riding and parking safely. Their local teams will work closely with police to ensure that the scooters are not a menace for other road and pavement users, particularly groups who may feel that they are at high risk. When Voi deploy infrastructure (such as parking racks or charging racks) they abide by the relevant government guidance and recognised standards for street furniture and design in public spaces. In the U.K., Voi follow the details laid out in the Manual for Streets 1 and 2.
 

What will Voi do to keep Northamptonshire safe for those with visual impairments or hearing difficulties?

  • At a national and local level, they are working closely with associations representing those with sight loss, including the RNIB, Guide Dogs, London Vision and Thomas Pocklington to ensure that they understand the needs of as many vulnerable people as possible. As a result of these conversations, the sector has published advice for e-scooter operators and local authorities participating in trials. Voi evaluate all of their operations against this advice.
  • In Northamptonshire, Voi will elicit feedback from these as well as other relevant groups within the first few weeks of launching the trial, so that we can make sure Voi’s operations do not add to street clutter or cause obstacles.
  • Based on Voi’s consultation with groups representing vulnerable road users, Voi have added additional content to Ride Like Voila (Voi’s online traffic school) to educate riders about the safety of vulnerable road users. All Voi U.K. HQ staff and Voi’s Northamptonshire management team are required to complete RNIB training including (i) Visual Awareness Training and (ii) Pan Disability Awareness Training.

How will Voi stop people from riding on the pavement?
Riding on pavement is illegal in the U.K., and education plays an important role in making sure that users abide by the rules. Voi’s free online traffic school, Ride Like Voila, teaches users the rules of the road and rewards users with ride vouchers when they complete modules. Voi actively communicate to riders that they should never ride on pavement throughout their journey, from in-app communications during the onboarding flow through to ongoing road safety communications.
 

What happens if someone rides an e-scooter on pavement?
Pavement riding is strictly prohibited. If someone is caught riding a Voi e-scooter on the pavement by a Voi ambassador, the ambassador would complete a reporting form and issue an account suspension of 7 days, then 30 days, then a permanent ban to the user. If the offending rider is caught by the police, the police report the incident to Voi ambassadors, who will carry out the same policy noted above.

What are the consequences for parking in a no-park zone?
No-park zones are indicated in red in the Voi app. A rider will be unable to end their ride in a no-park zone. If the rider abandons the scooter in a no-park zone, an on-the-ground Voi staff member will manually end the ride and retrieve the scooter. The rider will be charged £25 for the infraction. For more information about parking, read Voi's guide to parking e-scooters.

How will Voi prevent people from riding while intoxicated?
Users have a huge responsibility, not only towards themselves but towards other road users and pedestrians. Voi believe that education is a powerful tool, such as the Ride Like Voila e-scooter traffic school. Voi has developed an in-app reaction-time test that is activated during certain hours of the day when people are likely to be imbibing. The test aims to educate users on why drunk riding is unsafe (impacts reflexes, balance, overall judgement), and to encourage them to consider alternative modes of transport if they get poor results in the cognitive test. Voi can also implement no-parking zones in areas with bars and nightlife to discourage scooter use.

How does someone report a problem, or a scooter that is misplaced or blocking traffic?
Voi has a customer service helpline (08003768179) and a support email ([email protected]). You can also report a scooter here

How does Voi work with the police? Will the police take action against private e-scooters?
Voi has been working closely with the local police force since before the trials to ensure that appropriate safety and enforcement measures will be put in place. They meet regularly to discuss issues and measures. Police are aware of the rules of the trial, and they can report rogue riders and recommend blocks to Voi users accounts. Police are also aware that private e-scooters are illegal to ride in public places, and they will take appropriate action if an offending rider is caught.

Where can riders find out more information about safety?
Safety is Voi’s top priority, and there are many resources available to riders. Voi recommends all users complete Ride Like Voila, its online traffic school. Voi regularly sends users safety information via its app, and publishes regular safety content on the blog, such as recent articles about e-scooter safety during the COVID-19 pandemic and safety initiatives in the U.K. There is also a comprehensive FAQ on the Voi website that includes safety information. If a user has specific questions, they can contact support at [email protected].

What is Voi doing to ensure users park the scooters correctly?Besides having a team on the ground to monitor the e-scooter activity and ensure scooters are parked without causing a nuisance to pedestrians or other road users, Voi introduced an enhanced version of the ‘end of ride photo’. This feature requires users to take and submit a photo of their parked scooter at the end of each ride, encouraging them to park their scooter correctly. These photos are reviewed daily by Voi, and action to be taken if users do not comply with the safe parking guidelines. Users who let e-scooters lying down on the floor, parked in a way that is obstructing the pavement and causing an obstacle to pedestrians, strollers or wheelchairs, will receive an email containing a warning and an educational message. After the first warning, riders who park their vehicles incorrectly will receive a 25 pound fine.

How do I report a misplaced scooter or an instance of misuse?

Voi has a reporting page where people can report a scooter any issues related to e-scooters and provide a comment or suggestion. To report a specific scooter, the 4 digit scooter ID, visible on the scooter, will be required.

Screenshots of safety messaging taken from Voi app

Section 3. Sustainability

Are e-scooters really good for the environment?
Transport is Europe’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, and air pollution levels exceed safe levels in many European cities. Like other electric vehicles, e-scooters can help to limit transport emissions as well as reducing congestion in cities. The U.K. is particularly suitable for e-scooters because 60% of car trips here are for 1- to 3-mile journeys. Improvements to e-scooters, which now last a minimum of 60 months, mean that each scooter’s lifecycle cost is 71% lower than it was when the last major assessment was done in California two years ago.
 

How sustainable are Voi’s e-scooters?

  • Voi’s e-scooters are a safe, sustainable choice of transportation. They are zero-emissions vehicles.
  • Shared e-scooters are an important catalyst for people to leave their cars behind when travelling in dense urban areas.
  • With a lifespan of 5+ years, e-scooters have a carbon dioxide footprint of only 18q CO2 eq. per passenger per kilometre. By contrast, for a car it is more than 120 per person per kilometre.
  • Voi scooters are equipped with swappable batteries, which is a game-changer when it comes to green operations, because the batteries can be changed on the spot rather than transporting entire scooters back and forth to Voi’s warehouses. This allows for greener operations, with less service trips for charging and deploying scooters. The batteries can also be transported with lighter electric vehicles, such as cargo bikes, which are charged via renewable energy.
  • Voi has also pledged to recycle scooter parts wherever possible and recycle all materials used in the vehicles.
  • As a company, Voi has been operating carbon-neutral operations since January 2020.