South Somerset District Council launches e-scooter trials with Zwings
Britain’s leading micro-mobility operator, Zwings, has partnered with South Somerset District Council to launch a fleet of e-scooters in Yeovil today 22nd October 2020.
This scheme will be run under the official e-scooter trials initiative, authorised by the Department for Transport (DfT). Private use e-scooters remain illegal on UK roads, however these trials are allowing the DfT to review how authorised rental e-scooters are used in a controlled and monitored environment.
Zwings is providing a sustainable, convenient and socially distant mode of travel for the local community and visitors for the next 12 months for the DfT trial. They have created jobs for the local community and are working with a growing number of stakeholder groups to design, implement and manage the fleet’s operation. Around 60% of car trips are between 1 to 3 miles and the majority of which are made by the driver alone, causing local air pollution which is bad for health and CO2 emissions, impacting on climate change.
With the declaration of a climate emergency, there is an urgent need for solutions that will directly reduce unnecessary car usage in order to lower carbon emissions, reduce air pollution and congestion and improve health and wellbeing.
Zwings is operating a ‘regulated parking model’ rather than a traditional ‘free floating’ scheme found in most cities. This means riders have to end their ride via the app in a designated e-scooter parking bay rather than simply anywhere. This helps to reduce parking clutter and makes it easier for riders to find available vehicles faster. Zwings’ rental scheme will start with 40 e-scooters and then will scale relative to uptake. Battery levels are monitored and regularly swapped with recharged ones that are powered via a renewable energy tariff. Their staff will also soon use an electric van to travel around town to find, relocate, santise and maintain the e-scooters.
South Somerset Portfolio Holder for Environment, Councillor Sarah Dyke, said: “We are very excited to be one of the first local authorities to trial the official Department for Transport e-scooter scheme. We hope residents and visitors to Yeovil will embrace this initiative and replace their short about town car journeys to this emission free alternative.”
“This is an innovative trial and we have worked closely with Zwings, to adopt a model that fits the requirements and safety restrictions we’ve requested for this pilot scheme. We have worked with Avon and Somerset Police as part of our ongoing consultation to evolve the trial and ensure safety is paramount for users and non-users.”
Richard McKiernan, Traffic Management Officer at Avon and Somerset Police added: “Whilst the trial offers a new and exciting way of moving around the area, we strongly recommend that users take the time to understand the rules of their use and the importance of personal safety while on the road.
“I would urge anyone who owns a personal e-scooter to take note of the laws around their use and not to use it on roads and public areas even during this trial. Remember – an e-scooter is a ‘vehicle’ and that any misuse can lead to penalty points being endorsed on your driving licence.”
How can you ensure the scooters are safe and will not be misused?
Zwings have assured us that by working closely with the police, delivering rider education, making effective use of GPS technology and closely monitoring their use will help to mitigate possible concerns. Any scooters being misused or taken outside of the designated scoot areas will power down automatically and if required, this can also be done remotely in seconds.
Joe Lewin, Zwings CEO, commented: “We recognise that whilst these are new vehicles to our country’s streets and are very exciting we must remain cautious with their implementation. Hence, why we are starting with a small fleet and scaling incrementally. Ultimately, our mission is to make mobility safer, accessible and more environmentally sustainable.
The first few months will be crucial to gain an understanding of the level of community engagement. This way we can continually seek to improve our service to meet the needs of the local community, including vulnerable groups such as the partially sighted.
“We have a number of safety focused initiatives to promote or incentivise safe and responsible scooting, parking as well as the sanitisation of equipment. For example, our online questionnaires offer riders the opportunity of earning additional rider credits for successful completion of the questions. We will also undertake safety workshops at key locations across the area to encourage people to ‘trial before they ride’. As we are doing with other local authorities across the UK, we are keen on making available custom branded e-scooters exclusively for use by the police (if they would like them) in order to patrol on. This will help to deliver an impactful message to riders considering on misusing them”
Where are the scooters and what do I do if I want to use one?
In order to rent a Zwings e-scooter, please read the following:
- Firstly, you need to be 16 or above and have with you a minimum of a provisional licence for a one-time verification (before your first ride) when you arrive to your e-scooter. Download the Zwings app on your smart phone via your App store
- Find an e-scooter on the app’s map. You will find these in any of the parking bays. Upload your driving licence details and 45 seconds later you should be verified
- Scan the QR code to unlock and to start your ride.
- Enjoy the electric thrills but please scoot responsibly
- End your ride in any of the designated bays
Above: E-scooter station map
Above: Out of bounds map
Does it cost anything to use one of the Zwings e-scooters?
To rent a Zwing e-scooter in Yeovil, they are £1 to unlock via the Zwings app and then 15p per minute of rental. If you pause your ride the cost is 10p per minute.
It must be noted that any personally owned e-scooter being used is still classified as illegal by the DfT and you can be prosecuted for using one on public roads and pavements. The DfT has only enabled Zwings operated e-scooters to be used in the South Somerset e-scooter 12 month trials and have been formally vetted.
Please remember to enjoy e-scootering safely
- Riding an e-scooter on a pavement is illegal
- Riding is permitted anywhere cycles are officially allowed
- For your own safety, don’t ride on roads with a speed limit above 30mph, unless there is a segregated cycle route
- Only one user per e-scooter
- You are encouraged to wear a helmet
- Watch out for pedestrians and other road users who may not be used to seeing e-scooters
To find out more including frequently asked questions visit https://www.zwings.co.uk/pages/faq.
Have fun and stay safe as you scoot about your day!