Neuron Mobility has launched 250 e-scooters in a 12-month city trial in Newcastle from today.
The launch, held back a day by inclement weather, will see the distinctive orange e-scooters deployed across the city, with the number set to ramp up significantly as the trial continues.
The government-approved trial was launched as quickly as possible as the Department for Transport wanted to see the e-scooters offered to those needing to make essential journeys during COVID-19 restrictions.
Neuron is providing free passes to NHS and Emergency Services staff during the national lockdown, redeemable through the rates and passes section of the Neuron app. During the first three months the company will also offer free rides for commuters between 5am to 9am daily.
As the COVID-19 situation improves, there will also be more offers including those for university students and people on low incomes.
The e-scooters are GPS-enabled and Neuron and Newcastle City Council will use geofencing technology to control where they are ridden and parked, and how fast they can travel in certain areas by creating slow-zones, no-ride zones and no-parking zones.
Each e-scooter will be fitted with a unique license plate for easy identification and to promote responsible use.
Neuron is also deploying a dedicated safety team as part of the trial. They are armed with hospital-grade disinfectant to keep e-scooters and helmets completely clean and germ-free.
Zachary Wang, CEO of Neuron Mobility, said: “We are delighted to partner with Newcastle City Council, e-scooters are a great socially-distanced transport option for those that really must travel.
“Safety is our top priority: it dictates our e-scooter design and also the way we operate them. Our e-scooters are packed with cutting-edge safety features and our safety course and riding guidelines have been co-developed with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.”
Cllr Arlene Ainsley, cabinet member for transport and air quality at Newcastle City Council, said: “We’re very excited to be launching our e-scooter trial with Neuron today. The e-scooters offer a safe, convenient and low-carbon transport option for people and we very much hope they will play an important role in helping to transform the way we travel around our city.
“While we remain in national lockdown, the scooters will primarily be for key workers and we encourage people to only use them for essential journeys at this time.”
Neuron’s N3 e-scooters are already proven across Australia and New Zealand, and more recently in Slough.
They feature an app-controlled Helmet Lock which secures a safety helmet to the e-scooter, electronically releasing it to use at the start of the booking.
As well as the Helmet Lock, Newcastle riders will benefit from voice guidance to educate and warn them of how to travel safely; a ‘Follow My Ride’ feature which allows riders to share their trip with friends and family in real time for added safety and peace of mind; and a 999 emergency button which can tell if someone has had a fall, then help them call the emergency services.
The company will use a topple detection feature that alerts Neuron’s operations team if an e-scooter has been left on its side so it can quickly be repositioned safely. There will also be a range of ‘smart parking’ initiatives to control and promote safe parking, many of which are a first for the UK.
Riders over the age of 18 who hold a full or provisional driving licence are able to book and use the e-scooters through Neuron’s app. Single trips will cost £1 to unlock the e-scooter and 18 pence per minute after that.
More frequent users have the option to purchase Neuron Passes, a subscription service, available in three-day (£15), weekly (£22), or monthly (£36) options. The packages will allow users to ride as many times as they want for up to 90 minutes per day for a fixed affordable price.