Following other county councils around the UK, including in Coventry, e-scooters are now coming to Gloucester and Cheltenham in October as part of a 12-month transport trial with national provider, Zwings.
Gloucestershire County Council is facilitating a Department for Transport (DfT) trial of rental e-scooters in Gloucester and Cheltenham, designed to support a ‘green’ restart of local travel and help mitigate reduced public transport capacity due to the pandemic.
Electric scooters are not legal in the UK, however from 4 July 2020, the DfT has allowed people to use rental e-scooters as part of a strictly monitored ‘geofenced’ trial area, which means they will stop if the riders try to access an area off limits. Riders taking part in the trial will need to follow the Highway Code, as they can now legally travel on the road and on cycle paths. Zwings is undertaking a number of safety focused initiatives to deliver rider education and promote responsible riding. For example, they are incentivising safe scooting via questionnaires where riders can earn rental credits. All vehicles are GPS tracked and speed limits are in place.
Zwings was founded by Joe Lewin in early 2019, following a consistent dissatisfaction with how slow (and boring) taking public transport was. He bought an e-scooter for his commute and has been obsessed since. Originally, Zwings was an e-scooter retailer (previously known as Blue Zoom) but has since transitioned into a B2B and B2G fleet solution provider.
Zwings recognises this is a new vehicle to British streets, and the number of e-scooters available needs to match demand for them. They will start small with just 40 e-scooters situated in designated parking bays across each location. This will expand to 60 + e-scooters per location over time.
Cllr Nigel Moor, cabinet member responsible for environment and transport, said:“I am thrilled Gloucester and Cheltenham have been chosen to host a Government trial. I’m proud we are thinking outside of the box and looking at all options when it comes to carbon free transport. I hope residents, businesses and visitors will give it a try.”
Joe Lewin, CEO of Zwings, said: “As a British operator, we are taking pride in designing and deploying personalised e-scooter rental schemes in Gloucester and Cheltenham that will support residents and visitors by providing them affordable access to a social distancing transport solution that promotes sustainability. We recognise that the first few months will be crucial to gain an understanding of the community’s response. This way we can continually seek to improve our service in order to best suit individual needs, including vulnerable groups such as the partially sighted. There are designated parking bays to prevent our e-scooters from being left in unsafe places. We know people are passionate about climate change and as Zwings e-scooters are some of the most carbon efficient machines in Europe, we hope they will be a welcome addition to the county.”
Transport Minister, Rachel Maclean, said: “The trials of rental e-scooters starting in Gloucestershire could offer cleaner, efficient and more affordable travel for local communities.
“Learning from trials already taking place, Gloucestershire’s will see strict safety measures introduced – including license verification and responsible parking incentives, while also helping us better understand any impacts on public spaces.”