Northampton’s micro-mobility operator, Voi, estimates its e-scooters have replaced around 200,000 short car journeys and so prevented over 105 tonnes of CO2 emissions during the scheme’s first year. The scheme has attracted 30,000 active riders and Voi says its own research indicates that 66 per cent of local people believe the vehicles have made it easier to move around town.
Northampton was the first UK area in which Voi started to operate. What was initially intended to be a 12-month trial has now been extended after the government postponed its decision on the legality of e-scooters until after the more recent London trials.
West Northamptonshire Council and North Northamptonshire Council have said that the scheme will be reviewed on a rolling basis and could potentially be made permanent.
Since the trial began this time last year, there have been over 570,000 rides on Voi e-scooters, with 930,000 miles travelled.
The firm says that one-in-three riders have replaced car journeys and that 60 per cent of surveyed riders use the service at least a few times a week.
Commenting on similar findings in Bristol last month, cycling and walking charity Sustrans said it supported alternatives to using a car for short journeys but also expressed concern that e-scooters were being used where people would previously have walked.
“By swapping active travel for e-scooters, we’re removing the health benefits that come from walking or cycling those journeys,” said a spokesperson.
Councillor Phil Larratt from West Northamptonshire Council commented: “Tackling climate change and connecting our communities better are key priorities for our council so it’s really encouraging to see from this latest survey how residents are reaping real benefits from this innovative trial, by finding it easier to get around and reducing their car journeys.
“We understand there are some concerns from residents around the scheme, such as safety and abandonment of scooters and these are a key focus for us as we continue to work closely with Voi and the local police on addressing these issues. This includes an ongoing series of safety events where people can learn more about the scooters, try them out and get top tips for driving them safely.”
Jack Samler, General Manager at Voi UK and Ireland, added: “Northampton holds an important place in Voi’s heart as it was the first town where we launched our e-scooters.
“Transforming the cities we live in is our number one goal by encouraging people to leave their cars behind in favour of sustainable, safe, and carbon-neutral transport. We’ve helped thousands of people in the region make more environmentally-friendly choices by working closely with the local council and communities to embrace micromobility as part of everyday life, such as for work, running errands, or visiting friends and family.
“At Voi, we are delighted to be working with North Northamptonshire Council, and we look forward to seeing further progress being made in changing the way we move around our cities and towns to create healthier places to live.”