E-scooter firm Voi, which operates hire schemes across the West of England, has called on the government to introduce new laws to secure the future of the industry.
The Swedish tech firm is the largest operator in England with 18 schemes in place across the UK, with its biggest market being in Bristol, where its service spans almost the entire city.
The company said nearly 1.2 million people across the country had taken 21.5 million rides on its scooters since its first scheme was launched two-and half-years ago, replacing more than eight million car journeys, generating more than £50m across local economies in the cities it operates in.
Voi’s head of UK public policy Matthew Pencharz told MPs on the Transport Select Committee on Wednesday (February 8) demand for micromobility transport had been “proven”.
He warned “greater clarity” and a date for future legislation was required, with trials across the country currently set to end in May 2024.
Currently, while it is legal to sell and buy e-scooters in the UK, they can only be ridden on private land with permission from landowners, with only scooters attached to approved rental schemes allowed for use on public areas, roads, cycle lanes and pavements.
Voi said Britain was “one of the only countries in Europe” which applies the same levels of regulation to e-scooters as cars, despite differences in size, weight, power, and speed.
Mr Pencharz added: “Legislation will allow more cities and towns to use e-scooters as a sustainable method of transport for their communities, providing a firmer footing for the industry and the jobs and investment connected with it.”
Voi proposed a new vehicle category for micromobility devices, which could eliminate the need for all riders to have either provisional or full driving licences, in order to make them more accessible to more riders.
The firm said insurance required for e-scooters should be brought in line with e-bike regulation. Currently operators must provide Motor Third Party Liability insurance, as for all motor vehicles. It also called for government guidance on the management of e-scooter schemes to be updated.
An operator is currently being sought for the e-scooters trial across the West of England after the scheme was extended for a further two years.
Voi’s original contract is set to expire, but it has been agreed the company will continue to run scooters until the new deal is in place, which is anticipated to be in late spring.
Adam Norris, the chief executive of e-scooter brand Pure Electric told BusinessLive in November the Bristol-based business had been “working closely” with the government on public use of privately owned scooters, including on safety guidelines, and predicted it would be legalised “in the next 12 months”.
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