Newcastle City Council has rolled out its e-scooter trial with 250 scooters to hire in a number of locations across the city centre.
The local authority is working with e-scooter operator Neuron Mobility to operate the trial, backed by government, as part of the national trials of the technology before it can be legalised.
The 12-month trial will provide people with a safe, socially-distanced and environmentally-friendly transport option, the council said.
The Department for Transport has called for the trial to be launched as quickly as possible so that the e-scooters can be offered to those needing to make essential journeys during Covid 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 3 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 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. Each e-scooter will be fitted with a unique license plate for easy identification and to promote responsible use.
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. We’ve decided to provide free passes to NHS workers and also the Emergency Services. Also for the first three months there will be free commutes between 5-9am for those that have no option but to travel to work.
“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 (RoSPA), the UK’s leading accident prevention charity.”
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. 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.
“The Neuron e-scooters have several important safety features as well as technology that can control where they can be ridden and their maximum speed in certain areas. In addition Neuron’s safety team will regularly clean both scooters and helmets using disinfectant so that people can be confident that the equipment is clean and safe to use.
“As the trial develops we’ll be working with Neuron to introduce more scooters in response to demand and we’ll be monitoring how they are being used to ensure the scheme is operating safely and effectively.”
Errol Taylor, CEO of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) said: “As the world adapts to life with COVID-19, it is more important than ever to encourage commuters to choose safe, socially-distant, travel options, such as e-scooters.
“We partnered with Neuron to ensure we could educate the public on the safest way to ride, and we’re confident that with good user education, protective equipment and the technical interventions available on Neuron’s e-scooters, we can create a safe, efficient and desirable way to travel around Newcastle.
“Riders should educate themselves on the rules of the road, including how to ride safely and responsibly. All Neuron e-scooters come with an app-controlled helmet so riders should ensure they use them at all times. Furthermore, riding dangerously, or while under the influence of alcohol is illegal and it is the responsibility of every rider to adhere to these rules.”
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