- An electric scooter scheme in Coventry, UK, has been stopped after locals reported riders weaving through traffic and mounting the footpath.
- Voi, the Swedish e-scooter company operating the vehicles in Coventry and other UK cities, said it would install identification plates on all its scooters to “improve the ability of local police to report an issue or for CCTV to identify a vehicle.”
Richard Corbett, Voi’s general manager for Britain and Ireland, told The Times that the UK had an “antisocial behaviour issue.”
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Swedish electric scooter firm Voi has blamed Britain’s “antisocial behaviour issue” for the suspension of an e-scooter trial â€” and said it will fit its UK vehicles with identification plates.
Voi’s 200-scooter trial in Coventry was put on hold on Tuesday just five days after it launched, following reports that riders were mounting footpaths and weaving in and out of traffic.
Richard Corbett, Voi’s general manager for Britain and Ireland, told The Times that the company was surprised by the level of antisocial behaviour in the UK.
“I think we have an antisocial behaviour issue across the country and, when launching, there is a small minority that are ruining it for the majority,” he said. “We haven’t seen this level of antisocial behaviour in any other market. We have had great experience of it but the volume of it in the UK was quite surprising.”
He said to combat the behaviour in Coventry and other UK cities that Voi operates trials, including Birmingham and Northampton, the company will fit its vehicles with identification plates.
“We have agreed with not just Coventry council but all the markets we are launching in that they will have as a basic feature number plates, which will significantly improve the ability of local police to report an issue or for CCTV to identify a vehicle,” he said.
The company said Wednesday that it would educate locals about the scooters and lower their top speed.
Voi operates in 45 cities in ten countries across Europe. It rolled out the vehicles to both Coventry and Birmingham on Thursday, September 10. More than 5,000 rides were taken in Coventry alone in the initial days of the trial, it said.
The trial is only being paused in Coventry â€” the vehicles can still be used in Birmingham.
Before July, electric scooters were illegal on public UK streets. Now, users can scoot on the road and in cycle lanes, and do not need to wear helmets.
Scooters ‘”turned the city centre into a race track”
On the Facebook page of Coventry Live, a local news website, users reported close shaves with e-scooters in the city. One woman said that she “almost got knocked over whilst crossing on a pedestrian crossing.” Another said e-scooters have “turned the city centre into a race track.”
Another user complained that their bus was delayed because a rider “was weaving in and out so [the] bus couldn’t overtake,” while others said e-scooters were being abandoned across the city.
A Voi spokesperson told Business Insider that “the vehicles are safe, it’s about educating users and that is what we continue to do.”
“The beauty of the trial is to continuously measure, assess and tweak our services and we will continue when everyone is happy,” they added.
Voi said in a separate statement that both it and Coventry City Council had decided to pause the trial to evaluate how it works. “The advantage of a trial is that we can continually assess and learn from our experiences, and we are now taking this time to improve our service going forward,” the company said.
Educating riders and reducing scooter speed to 12.4 mph, from 15.5 mph, will make the vehicles “a safe, efficient transportation solution for Coventry,” Voi said.
E-scooters can reach speeds of up to 30 mph. The local transport regulator, Transport for West Midlands, said that users will in future be able to ride in pedestrianized areas at a reduced speed limit of 5 mph.
In July, Emily Hartridge, TV presenter and YouTube star, was killed in an e-scooter crash in London due to an underinflated tyre. This is believed to be the first fatal e-scooter crash in the UK.
Other cities which have introduced e-scooters trials include Northampton, Milton Keynes, and Middlesbrough.