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Metro backs e-scooter trial

West Midlands Metro is backing a temporary trial of e-scooters that’s being rolled out in West Bromwich town centre from today (December 8).

Anyone participating in the scheme, operated by Swedish company Voi, can leave scooters at tram stops with dedicated cycle bays. They must, however, park the scooter within the actual cycle bay.

As part of the trial, residents and visitors will be able to hire a Voi e-scooter to commute to work or move around West Bromwich. E-scooters offer a convenient, accessible carbon-neutral mode of transport and they will take pressure off public transport, helping people travel in a socially distanced manner whilst leaving their cars behind.

The e-scooters can only be used legally in the approved geographical zone which is the immediate vicinity of West Bromwich town centre. A map of the e-scooter zone can be found here.

Initially, there will be 25 Voi scooters available to hire close to West Bromwich town centre with more set to be introduced over time with a maximum of 50 e-scooters available for hire. E-scooters will be available from 6am to 8pm and will cost £1 to unlock the scooter and then 20 pence per minute for usage. There is also a variety of subscriptions available and more information about costs can be found by visiting Voi’s webpage.

Introducing e-scooters as safely as possible is an absolute priority for Voi and Sandwell Council and scooter speeds will be capped at 10 miles per hour with geo-fencing to ensure riders stay within the operating area.

Voi is committed to educating riders and other road users and will be doing so through in-app safety campaigns and on-the-ground-staff who will be on hand across West Bromwich to answer questions, help people and monitor activity. Riders will be encouraged to complete Voi’s digital e-scooter traffic school #RideLikeVoila, the world’s first certified digital traffic school, where they can learn how to ride a scooter safely. Riders can download the Voi app for free in the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Sandwell Council and Voi will continue to work closely with groups representing vulnerable groups, including the RNIB, London Vision and Thomas Pocklington to ensure their needs are carefully considered during the trial.

Councillor Jackie Taylor, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for sustainable transport said: “We are looking forward to working with Voi and WMCA to bring the first e-scooters to West Bromwich town centre.

“This will be a temporary trial where residents can hire e-scooters to use around West Bromwich town centre.

“This is just one of the modes of sustainable transport the council are exploring to help reduce carbon emissions in Sandwell and offer a potential for fast, clean and inexpensive travel that can also help ease the burden on transport networks.

“Safety of our residents is our top priority for e-scooter users and regulations allow for the use of same road spaces as bikes, including cycle lanes. A trial e-scooter can only be used legally on roads (except motorways) and the Metro Parkway route which runs along the tram line between Black Lake and The Hawthorns stops.

“Customers, using e-scooters, must be aware that riding on the pavements is strictly prohibited and there are offences and penalties for using the e-scooter illegally and you may be fined up to £300, have six points added to your driving licence and banned from using the e-scooters. With this in mind, I request users taking part in the trial to be responsible and to take care on the roads and be mindful of other road users and pedestrians.

“Introducing new forms of transport to Sandwell is one of our top priorities and we hope it will also encourage better health and wellbeing in our residents.”

Councillor Maria Crompton, Deputy Leader for Sandwell Council said: “We have been working closely with our partners to find alternative sustainable modes of transport which are better for the environment and will make Sandwell a better, cleaner and greener place to live for all our residents.

“This will be a great way to travel and maintain social distancing during Covid-19 pandemic and I hope people take this opportunity to trial the e-scooters which are available in West Bromwich town centre.

“I urge people to stay safe and adhere to the rules of the road when using the e-scooters.”

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “This launch follows hot on the heels of the extension of the e-scooter trial zone in Birmingham last week and will give even more people the opportunity to give them a go after they have proved to be so popular.

“E-scooters will offer more choice and a more environmentally friendly way for people to make those shorter journeys around West Bromwich town centre, and Transport for West Midlands is working with Voi and our local authorities to bring e-scooters to even more parts of the West Midlands over the coming weeks.”

Richard Corbett, Regional General Manager of UK, Ireland and Benelux for Voi, said: “We are excited to launch our shared e-scooter trial to West Bromwich and offer its residents a safe and flexible alternative to car journeys, reducing congestion and pollution.

“The trial offers West Bromwich residents and visitors a unique opportunity to commute, shop or move around their local area using a convenient, accessible and environmentally-efficient way to travel. E-scooters empower individuals to contribute to the transformation of their cities, turning them into safer and better places to live.”

Safety is Voi’s number one priority. Voi’s scooters are disinfected every 24 hours, and they are fitted with copper tape that inactivates and minimises the transmission of Covid-19. In addition, Voi provides Covid-19 advice and information via the app and encourages its users to use hand sanitiser and wear gloves.