‘Hop-on, hop-off’ e-scooter hire scheme arrives in the Stokes

Photo of rental scheme e-scooters parked at a MetroBus stop.
Rental scheme e-scooters parked at the nortbound MetroBus stop outside the Willow Brook shopping centre.

Residents of the Stokes are now able to hire ‘hop-on, hop-off’ e-scooters after a trial scheme established in Bristol city centre in October 2020 was expanded to cover Bradley Stoke, Stoke Gifford and Filton.

Clusters of coral-coloured e-scooters began appearing at MetroBus stops and other key locations in the area on Friday (12th February 2021).

As previously reported, the scheme forms part of a government initiative to support a ‘green’ restart of local travel and help mitigate reduced public transport capacity during the coronavirus emergency. It is being led locally by the West of England Combined Authority (Weca) which has signed a deal with e-scooter provider Voi Technology Ltd, Europe’s fastest growing micro-mobility operator.

The trial’s expansion has seen the number of scooters available increased to 400 in Bristol and 200 in South Gloucestershire.

The trial e-scooters can be rented by anyone over 18 with a full or provisional driving licence. Within the designated geographical area the vehicles may be used on roads, cycle lanes and designated cycle paths (including shared-use paths) but not on regular pavements.

In line with the Department for Transport’s guidance, Weca recommends wearing a cycle helmet when using an e-scooter, but their use is not mandatory.

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Hiring a scooter on a casual basis costs 99p to unlock the vehicle and thereafter 14p per minute. There are also a variety of subscriptions available, including a day pass for £4.99 and a monthly pass for £34.99. With these passes, the first 45 minutes of every ride are free (anything beyond this will be charged).

Discounts are available for NHS and emergency services staff (100 percent off until the end of the current coronavirus lockdown period; normally 75 percent off), students and HC2 medical certificate holders.

Third-party insurance cover is included within the hire charge.

To hire an e-scooter, users need to first download the ‘VOI Scooters: Get Magic Wheel‪s’ app onto their smartphone, register with the service and add a payment method (credit/debit card or Paypal). They can then locate an available e-scooter using the map function within the app.

Once at the e-scooter’s location, the hirer uses the smartphone app to scan the QR code on the vehicle’s handlebars or footpad to ‘unlock’ it and commence the hire period.

Collage of two photos showing user display and QR code.
User display and QR code on a Voi e-scooter.

The Voi e-scooters use geofencing technology to limit access to some places, such as parks, nature reserves and play areas. Geofencing uses GPS technology to restrict use or limit the speed of e-scooters within geographically defined zones. For example, the speed of e-scooters can be automatically restricted to slower speeds within busy pedestrian areas.

Initially e-scooter speeds are being limited to between 3 to 10 mph, depending on the operating zone.

At the end of a ride, the e-scooters may be ‘parked’ almost anywhere within the operational area, however a bonus system encourages riders to leave their vehicle at any of the ‘great parking spots’ shown on the map within the smartphone app.

[Editor’s note: Although the above information about e-scooter parking comes directly from the Voi FAQ, we have now been informed that e-scooters hired as part of the Weca trial must be parked within the ‘good parking spots’ marked blue on the map within the Voi smartphone app. We are currently investigating how effectively this is being enforced and will provide a further update in due course.]

Safety measures to protect riders against Covid-19 include equipping all handlebars with anti-bacterial tape and ensuring the vehicles are regularly disinfected.

Personal e-scooters, outside of the trial, remain illegal except when used on private land with the permission of the landowner.

The story so far

Since launch, back in October 2020, there have been over 100,000 rides taken, and over 246,948km travelled in the Weca area.

In Bristol there have been over 86,327 rides taken by over 19,275 unique riders with over 207,111 km travelled.

In Bath there have been over 17,325 rides and 5,557 unique riders with over 39,837 km travelled.

Mayor of the West of England Tim Bowles said:

“The West of England has really embraced our e-scooter trial and I’m pleased that many more people will now have a chance to benefit from this low-carbon alternative to the car for short journeys to access essential work and services.”

“E-scooters are part of our transport plans for the region alongside MetroBus, MetroWest rail network and plans for a regional mass transit, to make it easier to get to the jobs and training opportunities that will secure our recovery.”

South Gloucestershire Council’s Cabinet member for regeneration, environment and strategic infrastructure, Cllr Steve Reade, said:

“We are really pleased and excited to see the West of England e-scooter trial launch in South Gloucestershire. During the pandemic we have seen many people adopt greener travel choices, especially for local journeys, and e-scooters will only continue to encourage this.”

“E-scooters provide yet another low-carbon alternative for people who need to travel and support our Climate Emergency goals, as well as our ambitions to reduce congestion and emissions, improve air quality and keep South Gloucestershire moving.”

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Long-term rentals

Weca has also recently introduced long-term e-scooter rentals that can be stored at home and used by residents across the whole of Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire, giving unlimited access to cost-effective and socially distanced transport, within the entire geofenced Weca area.

The long-term rental service is available on a monthly basis and is currently priced at £35 per month.

For more information, visit the ‘E-scooter personal lease‘ page on the Voi Scooters website.

Rules and safety measures

The following rules and safety measures apply for the Weca e-scooter trials:

  • Only e-scooters that are hired or leased through the Weca trial can be used legally on roads, cycle lanes or cycle tracks
  • E-scooters cannot be used on pavements or parked in a way that disrupts pedestrians or causes nuisance
  • Using GPS technology, there will be no-ride zones and slow-speed zones for some areas
  • All e-scooters will have clear number plates to help identify riders
  • Driving licence and identity checks will be required
  • Voi ambassadors will be present on the streets to enforce safe behaviour
  • Ambassadors will work with Avon and Somerset Police to restrict or ban non-compliant users

For more information, visit the ‘E-scooter trial‘ page on the Travelwest website and the ‘Frequently asked questions‘ page on the Voi Scooters website.

How to contact Voi Scooters in the UK:

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Reporting illegal use

Concerned about e-scooters being used on pavements which are not designated for use by cyclists?

Reporting dangerous driving

Have you witnesses dangerous driving by an e-scooter rider?

Reporting other concerns

Voi’s support channels for the general public to report incorrectly parked scooters or for any other questions or concerns are:

Government guidance (on GOV.UK)

Your feedback

General feedback about the West of England e-scooter trial should be sent to

Update: Where are you allowed to ride?

Added 11th March 2021.

The slide below was shown by senior Voi officials at a videoconference hosted by South Gloucestershire Council on 25th February 2021.

Screenshot of presentation slide.
Voi scooters: What’s allowed in the West of England trial?

Despite the clear statement “Travel wherever cycles are permitted”, some members of the public have reported being told by Voi customer support staff that use of the trial e-scooters on shared-used paths, i.e. intended for use by both pedestrians and cyclists, is not permitted.

However, a senior PR manager at Voi UK has confirmed to the Journal that the statement given at the presentation is correct and so the trial e-scooters may be written on shared-use paths, specifically those marked with the blue signs shown below. As stated in the slide, local geofencing can be used to enforce exceptions to this general rule.

Photo of shared-use path signs.
Shared-use path signs.
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8 comments

  1. I think this is a very good idea in order to help the country being green and help climate change by not using transport that often. BUT, I feel there should be designated areas where the scooters need to be returned as they are just being left anywhere. This morning we had one just left by our drive in front of our car.

  2. This scheme appears illegal as it against the law to park on the pavement and as there are road legal vechiles I cannot how these can be exempt… for reference even mobility scooters are not allowed to be parked on the pavement

  3. Who is liable when these block pavement and cause accessibility isssues, meaning members of the public will need to use the road and then be involved in a road accident ?? They seem to be in breach of UK laws for accessibility.

  4. Why are 90 % of users I see on these Schoolchildren – well below the age they could have a provisional licence.

    Need much better enforcement of all the rules and penalties for the company for every breach.

    Also need to ensure that this doesn’t lead to a cancel culture on those who are unable to drive because of a medical condition, as these scooters reduce the use of buses/taxis and so push the cost up if they are even viable.

    1. @Nick, Are you sure the ones you have seen ridden by schoolchildren are the official trial e-scooters (coloured pink and with registration plates)?

      The smartphone app requires the user to upload a scan of a driving licence and register a bank card.

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