Bristol’s micro-mobility operator has come in for criticism for the way in which some e-scooters are being parked. Voi has been operating with designated zones in a bid to prevent inconsiderate parking, but such large numbers of e-scooters are being left in some of these that they are spilling out onto pavements.
In October 2020, Voi e-scooters became available to hire in Bath and Bristol for what will be a 12-month trial. Initially, just 100 e-scooters were made available in central Bristol and 50 in central Bath. However, the number and trial area has since expanded.
In January, the trial was proclaimed a “policing non-event” by Avon & Somerset Constabulary’s traffic management unit boss who conceded he had initially feared, “twisted metal and bodies scattered all over the highway.”
The growing number of e-scooters does seem to have presented new logistical challenges however with the Bristol Post reporting that 27 were left at one spot in Clifton and 17 in a small area of pavement in Bedminster.
Legal e-scooters gather in vast herds on the plains of Bedminster for the annual migration into the swamps of Ashton.
There’s safety in numbers against small hunting packs of privately-owned, predatory e-scooters & the now-endangered but still dangerous, carnivorous YoBike. pic.twitter.com/ppVGX5qeoX— Tristan Cork BLive (@TristanCorkPost) March 20, 2021
Green Party city councillor Carla Denyer says she has also raised concerns that Voi users are being directed to park e-scooters at designated cycle racks.
@voitechnology We were told by @BristolCouncil that Voi parking zones wouldn't block cycle racks, but it's evidently not true. I'm fed up with repeatedly reporting obstructions. Not isolated cases, you must have told your users this is the right place to park. Please change this pic.twitter.com/2JtdwDNYR6— Carla Denyer (@carla_denyer) March 17, 2021
And more....F92J+JQ Bristol pic.twitter.com/nIj97uWiAW— ArlingtonGarden (@ArlingtonGdnBS8) March 23, 2021
Denyer believes the best solution would be for Voi to be given on-street parking spaces, arguing that 30 e-scooters or more would be able to fit in space that would otherwise be occupied by one car.
“Safety is our top priority,” said a Voi spokesperson. “Parking scooters in a way that blocks the pavement are strictly against our user agreement. We have Voi ambassadors in all cities to monitor the streets to report anti-social behaviour, as well as correct poorly-parked scooters.
“We assure you that we don’t want our scooters parked like this either, and are working to improve this.
“One of our priorities is to make sure the scooters are parked correctly, according to local laws and our terms and conditions. We are also working on putting parking racks in several cities where you can place the scooters neatly in the racks.
“We really apologise for any inconveniences caused by our scooters.”
A spokesperson for Bristol City Council said: "Voi can issue warnings to users who do not follow the rules and remove the accounts of persistent offenders. The Council does not have powers to enforce traffic offences as that is the police's responsibility.
"We are working with Voi to improve the messaging riders get about responsible road use and parking, and to develop a better system for people to report any issues. Issues can currently be reported, ideally with a photo and/or the scooter's registration number."