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Free e-scooter passes help key workers ride out lockdown

4 November 2020

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It might be the week of Halloween, Guy Fawkes and National Lockdown Returns, but that hasn’t stopped e-scooter companies giving back like it’s Christmas. Lime, Voi, Zwings and Neuron all announced free rides or massive discounts, while Bird’s new helmet selfie checker awards money off future trips.

Elliot Colburn MP kicked off Zag’s new opinion section with a suitably bracing call-to-arms (and a gentle hint about how dockless systems may fare in London). We held our first cities conference on e-scooters, supported by Dott, Bird and Link; a podcast is due out later this week.

And Dott signed up to partner Zag on an ongoing basis, which will help us continue in our unique mission to keep British readers informed on all things e-scooter and micromobility. Thank you, Dott.

1: Four cities launch e-scooter programmes

What: Electric scooters landed in Bristol, Bath, Taunton and Canterbury this week, supplied by (respectively) Voi, Voi again, Zipp and Bird.

Why it matters: Voi, Zipp and Bird may all operate e-scooter fleets but that’s like saying Donald Trump and Joe Biden both work in politics. The companies are entirely unalike when it comes to history, outlook, culture and scale. And each of these four distinct trial areas is trying to achieve very different things.

The DfT needs as much variety as possibly in operators, systems and locations when considering whether to make shared e-scooters permanently welcome in the UK. Job done.  RR

2: More rides-per-day on e-scooters in the UK than in North America

What: Zag’s resident data scientist Oliver O’Brien issued a report that showed that, by some metrics, shared e-scooter use in the UK is more popular than North America. British e-scooter schemes are seeing more rides per day and greater average journey distance, despite fleets and number of live locations being a fraction of what they are across North America. Oh – and by our estimate, e-scooters in England are being used for 10,000 trips every day.

Why it matters: It matters alright. The North American market is far more mature and far larger than the UK. Citizens there have had years for e-scooters to filter into their national consciousness and become an everyday part of the transport mix. That is not the case here, yet Brits are taking to e-scooters in epic fashion, for exactly the kind of short journeys these little electric machines are designed for. The concept works. Full national legalisation, please. RR

3: Scoot your way to haggis and deep-fried Mars bars

What: The devolved transport authorities in Scotland and Wales have not thus far approved e-scooter trials in their own countries – but that may be about to change. Glasgow looks set for a pilot programme and has set out some well-considered wants.

Why it matters: Because climate change and air pollution don’t neatly stop at artificial lines drawn on a map. Electric scooters should be seen as tools to improve mobility while simultaneously contributing to decarbonisation strategies, and that’s something Scottish cities need much as English ones.  RR

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