FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - Voi in Northamptonshire

Page information: 

Section 1 - General information 

Section 2- Safety 

Section 3 - Sustainability 

 

Last updated 30th September, 2020. 

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. Our 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 a 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 have expressed an interest in running e-scooter pilots, including London, Liverpool, West Midlands, Manchester, Newcastle, Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Southampton. We know that many U.K. residents have tried Voi in other countries and have 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 e-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) is fast-tracking and expanding 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, local authorities could apply to the DfT to host a 12-month e-scooter trial. Northamptonshire was one of these local 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 may be used on the road (except motorways) 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. 

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.

 

screenshots for voi e-scooter app to show safety

How many Voi e-scooters are currently in Northamptonshire?

There are currently 300 Voi e-scooters in Northampton. This reflects the tighter initial operating zone around the central area. The number of e-scooters will increase as the operating zone extends. In Kettering, the trial will start with 100 e-scooters. Again, this will grow as the trial operating zone extends across the town. 

Voi will be guided by what areas need and work closely with them to make sure that they 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 in the locations at the times where people want them. 

How do Voi e-scooters integrate with public transport?

Voi are currently in talks with various transport operators in Northamptonshire and will announce these partnerships in due course. Our aim is to integrate fully with transport services across the region, and we are working together to achieve that.

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 is assessed. It is illegal to ride a private e-scooter on public roads/spaces in the U.K.

Will riders need a driving licence? 

Yes. To ride an e-scooter in a pilot area, a rider will need a provisional driving licence. This 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 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 current maximum speed in Northamptonshire varies from 3 to 12.4 mph, depending on the zone. It is worth noting that private e-scooters — which are illegal to ride unless on private land or with express permission of the 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 www.voiscooters.com.

Are users insured when using Voi e-scooters? 

As required by legislation, Voi users have motor third-party insurance through our insurance partner company Zego. Voi has also decided to go beyond the DfT’s requirements and have included personal accident coverage insurance for all 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. Users can see their locations and operating zone in the in-app map.

How will the trial be evaluated?
The Department for Transport (DfT) will be responsible for evaluating all of the UK trials through its own monitoring and evaluation exercise. The DfT will then decide the long term future of rental e-scooter schemes in the UK.  In addition to this, Voi and Northamptonshire County Council will also be evaluating our local trial based on a range of metric.

 

Section 2. Safety 

How can someone ride a Voi e-scooter safely? 

Voi believe in pushing safety through rider education. New riders can earn credits from completing modules of our 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, wear a helmet, avoid riding on pavements, abide by speed limits, and keep vigilant.

What is Voi doing to ensure e-scooter safety in the UK? 

Safety is the number-one priority. Voi is continually working with its partner cities and regions, including Norhtamptonshire, to assess and improve services. In the U.K., Voi is introducing new measures to ensure safe riding:

  • Doubling 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. 

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 a warning 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.

Will riders need to ride 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.

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, Voi have increased our cleaning and maintenance frequencies. Voi are rolling out copper tape on handlebars, which inactivates 99.98% of the coronavirus. All scooters are disinfected regularly. Voi is also providing COVID-19 information and advice via its app. Voi encourage riders to use gloves if that makes them feel more comfortable.

How will e-scooters be kept clean whilst 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. Our mechanics and logistics teams are equipped with sanitary kits, including masks, gloves, and anti-bacterial gel, and they follow social-distancing guidelines. Voi are testing a new handlebar material, a copper tape that kills the coronaviruses in minutes. 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 users about how to keep themselves safe and encourage them to use hand sanitiser and wear gloves.

What will Voi and Northamptonshire do to keep streets safe from e-scooter clutter? 

We 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 they can look at initiatives to prevent it happening in the first place.

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

  • Voi’s e-scooters are capped at a speed of 15.5 mph, per U.K. regulation. Regular bicycles often reach the same speed or higher.
  • During the trial phase in Northamptonshire, depending on the part of the city, Voi will cap scooter speeds at 3 to 12.4 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 it is not 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 our 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 will work with councils to control the number of scooters on the streets and their locations. Voi can incentivise people to park them correctly, and they will 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 they 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., we 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, we are working closely with associations representing those with sight loss, including the RNIB, Guide Dogs, London Vision and Thomas Pocklington to ensure that we understand the needs of as many vulnerable people as possible. As a result of our conversations, the sector has published advice for e-scooter operators and local authorities participating in trials. We evaluate all of our operations against this advice.
  • In Northamptonshire, we 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.
  • Voi has also implemented a slow-speed zone (set at a maximum speed of 3 mph, which is walking pace) around the Northamptonshire Association for the Blind. This will help to protect vulnerable road users.

Based on our 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. Our 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.

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. We 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 drinking. 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]).

 

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.
  • Over the course of the 12-month trial, 80–470 tons of CO2 will be saved in Northamptonshire, depending on the shift away from cars and local scooter adoption rates.