E-scooters are now available to hire in Bath and Bristol as part of a new trial led by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA).

West of England Mayor Tim Bowles and Cllr Dine Romero, leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, along with scooter firm Voi Technology, launched the new regional scheme at Bath’s Royal Crescent.

Over the next 12 months, residents and visitors will be able to hire an e-scooter for their commute to work or for travelling around the cities. The new carbon-neutral e-scooters will also take pressure off public transport, helping people travel in a socially-distant manner and leaving their cars behind.

Swedish-founded electronic scooter brand Voi put its first fleet of e-scooters on UK streets after being selected to run an exclusive e-scooter trial for Cambridge and provide its ‘micro-mobility’ services across the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough region.

The trial’s operator, Voi, will create more than 60 jobs in the region during the trial, which is being led by the Combined Authority in partnership with Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire councils.

West of England Mayor Tim Bowles said: “With social distancing in place on public transport, our e-scooter trial is a chance for us to try a new, low carbon way to get our region moving, particularly up and down the big hills we have both Bristol and Bath.

“Alongside metrobus, our transformational MetroWest rail network and plans for a regional mass transit, we’re making it easier to get to the jobs and training opportunities that will secure our recovery.”

Initially, there will be 100 Voi scooters available in Bristol and 50 available to hire in Bath with more set to be introduced over time

.E-scooters will be available to unlock for £1 and cost 20p per minute. There are also a variety of subscriptions available, as well as discounted passes for students, key workers, and those on low-incomes.

Fredrik Hjelm, co-founder and CEO of Voi Technology, added: “We are excited to be bringing Voi’s coral scooters to Bath and Bristol, two modern cities at the forefront of culture, science and technology.

“As the pandemic continues, people are looking for alternative ways to go about their journeys and Voi’s scooters are a safe, low-carbon alternative to public transport and car journeys. We can’t wait to see how residents and visitors to these great cities enjoy using Voi e-scooters.”

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “We made proposals to government more than two years ago to trial e-scooters in Bristol and we are delighted that this is now happening. We welcome the investment and jobs that Voi are bringing to the city and we are working closely with them to ensure e-scooters are used responsibly and safely.”

Privately owned e-scooters remain illegal to use on roads, pavements, parks and any other areas. The only place that privately owned e-scooters can legally be used is on private land with the permission of the landowner.

Only e-scooters that are hired or leased through the West of England’s trial can be used legally on roads, cycle lanes or cycle tracks.

The trial will introduce several safety measures which exceed the UK government’s requirements. Initially, scooters will not exceed 10mph and will be slower in some areas. until people get used to them.

Using GPS technology, there will be no-ride zones and slow-speed zones for some areas. When a user travels out of the operational zone, they will be blocked, and the e-scooter will slow and stop.