Another week, another world-first for British micromobility, thanks to Beryl. Plus: Coventry’s incredible scooter success; Bolt’s fast-track carbon-cutting programme; why number plates are a poor substitute for education and collaboration; and your favourite micromobility editorial source releases a round-up of all UK scooter trial locations and a rather nifty film trailer.
1: World-first system for Norwich bins geofenced slow zones
What: Norwich launched an e-scooter trial this week, which local authorities think will help reduce traffic congestion and pollution.
The Norfolk city already has a shared bike and e-bike programme run by Beryl; in a world-first for a single operator, the British company has now added electric scooters to create a tri-modal city fleet. Perhaps even more notable is that Beryl will not geofence areas it doesn’t want e-scooter riders to access, such as parks and pavements, relying instead on education and common sense.
Why it matters: Norwich is uniquely equipped to evaluate two facets of electric scooter use.
By offering bicycles, e-bikes and e-scooters all under the same rental programme, Beryl will be able to accurately assess how pricing, time of year, weather and locations affect uptake. We may also finally get an answer to that thorny question: do e-scooters replace bicycle trips instead of car journeys?
And, by treating e-scooters as bicycles, Norwich knows there will already be widespread understanding of where riders can and can’t go, rather than treating scooters as something entirely new and alien. Geofencing can be laggy, frustrating and sometimes unsafe (if a scooter is suddenly slowed while crossing a road, for example, or when it doesn’t automatically decelerate when a rider expects on entering a slow zone).
We think removing geofenced “slow zones” will improve safety for all road users. Norwich has placed responsibility for safe use where it belongs: with authorities, for education on road use rules, and with riders, in complying. RR
2: The incredible success of Coventry’s e-scooter programme underlines the tragedy of its suspension
What: Over just five days in Coventry, riders took 7,500 trips on Voi electric scooters and covered nearly 10,000 miles. Per vehicle, these ridership figures dwarf the large, established bike-share programmes in London and Edinburgh.
Why it matters: Voi scooters were used so much in Coventry that they’ve been suspended. Talk about being a victim of their own success.
Coventry council was worried by reports of reckless riding and riders using pavements. But, rather than looking at the bigger picture – that there’s clearly an appetite among residents for these scooters, that anything new takes time to bed in and that, unlike cars, scooters are unlikely to do any damage to people or the environment – the council has instead asked Voi to yank its e-scooters from the streets.
By this logic, the council ought to ban all cars immediately. Even bicycles are statistically more dangerous to others than scooters.
It’s not wrong to be careful. Being inconsistent and short-sighted, however, is less forgivable. RR
3: Bolt’s Christmas miracle
What: Bolt (the one with green scooters) has said that its scooter business will remove more carbon from the environment than it produces, by the end of 2020.
Why it matters: This is not virtue-signalling. Micromobility companies exist to clean up our cities. They’ve come under fire in the past for sketchy environmental credentials but many have since corrected those missteps.
Not many, though, have as accelerated a timeline as Bolt. It’s impressive by any measure. Set against the hideous pollution that motor vehicles and aircraft have generated for well over a century, these meaningful sustainability actions are nothing short of miraculous. RR