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Residents and visitors to Portsmouth could have the opportunity to take part in a trial of rental e-scooters from March if proposals are approved at next week's Traffic and Transportation decision meeting

Solent Transport, a partnership body which includes Portsmouth City Council, has been awarded funding by the Department for Transport (DfT) to launch rental e-scooter trials in Portsmouth, on the Isle of Wight and at other locations across the Solent region. The trial provides an opportunity for the public to try out rental e-scooters and share feedback about their experience with Portsmouth City Council and Solent Transport.

Next week, a proposal will be discussed at Portsmouth City Council’s Traffic and Transportation decision meeting to carry out the rental e-scooter trial between March and November. If approved, the trial will take place within the Portsmouth boundary and riders would be required to follow the same rules of the road as cyclists. The use of private e-scooters remains illegal except on private land.

In Portsmouth, the scheme will be operated by Voi Technology, a leading European micro-mobility operator, who have been appointed following a comprehensive procurement process. Voi is currently operating trials in 10 cities across the UK, with over 100,000 active users and over half a million rides being taken since they launched the first trial back in September 2020.

During the development of the trial, the council have worked closely with Voi and a range of stakeholders including the Police, local transport operators, disability groups and NHS Hospital Trusts, to ensure that a safe and constructive approach is taken towards operating the trial in Portsmouth.

The government trials recommend that before being able to rent an e-scooter people are encouraged to take part in online training, via Voi’s accredited online e-scooter driving school, and will need to be over 18 years old and hold at least a valid provisional driving license. When hiring the rental e-scooters, members of the public are encouraged to wear a bicycle helmet.

Regulations allow shared e-scooters to use the same road spaces as bikes, including cycle lanes, and their use on pavements is strictly prohibited. Private e-scooters remain illegal, except on private land.

The trial forms part of a national approach to building a more sustainable travel network around the UK. E-scooters offer a safe and socially-distanced transport alternative to help the region recover from the coronavirus pandemic. They are particularly useful for connecting the last or first mile of travel and can be easily integrated with public transport and for journeys of one to three miles, which make up 60% of all road trips in the U.K. Beyond the trial period electric scooters can improve air quality and reduce congestion as they are a carbon-neutral mode of transport, which can easily replace short car journeys.

Cllr Lynne Stagg, Cabinet Member for Traffic and Transportation, said “I look forward to discussing the rental trial at the Traffic and Transportation meeting.”

The Traffic and Transportation decision meeting will take place on 25 February.