As one of the UK’s trial shared e-scooter operations completely reboots its fleet for the very first time, it’s worth taking a closer look at the recent announcement of Wind’s Nottingham shared e-scooter operation changing to a new platform – LINK.
Wind’s various European operations have been reborn recently, with its Italian operations switching to TIER, and its French and UK operations both changing to Superpedestrian’s LINK platform. Wind UK remains the organisation nominally operating the Nottingham fleet, but with the scooters, app and customer support service switching to Superpedestrian, it is clear that this is very much a system designed and managed by the latter organisation.
Superpedestrian is investing in one of the UK’s key trial areas. Nottingham is the busiest of the 50-odd shared e-scooter sharing fleets in the country. An average of around 500 e-scooters have delivered approximately a million rides in the first year of operation – an average of over 5 rides per e-scooter per day. These are stellar numbers – the highest sustained usage numbers Zag has seen – and around 5 times the usage rate seen in London so far. Something clearly has gone right in Nottingham in the last year, so there are big shoes for Superpedestrian to fill – so who are they what do they bring to the party?
The company is US based but has been operating their LINK scooters in Europe since September 2020, when they launched in Rome. Since then, they have gone on to Madrid, and now operate extensively throughout Italy and Spain, as well as a number of other European countries. They’ve seen two million rides so far in Europe – Nottingham should start adding significantly to their numbers too.
One of the key innovations in the new scooters is an onboard geofence store. What does this mean? It means the scooter does not need to load data from the internet about where the user can or cannot go – it already knows it. This helps ensure that the e-scooter can react quickly and effectively when a rider strays from an allowed area.
LINK scooters also come with an onboard safety monitoring system which carries out 100+ safety checks before every ride. One thing they don’t have, unlike the older Wind fleet, is integrated helmets. They were only being used 4% of the time, and research indicated that most users would prefer not to use a shared helmet. The operator will instead be handing out helmets for interested users to take and keep at public engagement events. They have also increased the minimum age requirement to 18.
So how’s the Nottingham change going? The old scooters were withdrawn quite quickly, on Tuesday 14 December, with only 2 remaining by 6pm that evening. 250 of the new ones were in place on Wednesday morning, swelling to 300 in the afternoon. We expect that Superpedestrian will want to build up their fleet further in the new year, potentially back up to the 500 or so being seen before. While the cold winds of December and January are always a challenge for micromobility service users, there are still plenty of possible trips needing to be taken and Nottingham will be already looking to the next million e-scooter journeys.