Covid-19: UK town of Slough to launch ‘safety-first’ e-scooter trial

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Slough Borough Council and e-scooter operator Neuron Mobility have announced that e-scooters will soon be available to hire on Slough’s streets in a 12-month trial, among the first to be launched as part of the UK government’s drive to facilitate new methods of active travel in the Covid era.

The trial, due to start mid October, will see 250 purpose-built e-scooters deployed across Slough. Neuron’s industry-leading e-scooters will provide residents with a safe, convenient and socially-distanced way to travel.

Neuron, Australia and New Zealand’s leading e-scooter operator, was selected due to the company’s strong track record of partnering with councils and also because of their leadership when it comes to safety and innovation. As part of Neuron’s investment into the town, the company will create around 25 skilled jobs which will be recruited locally. Slough riders will benefit from Neuron’s latest N3 e-scooters which have been purpose-built for renting and rider safety.

The distinctive orange e-scooters have an impressive range of world-first safety features and pioneering innovations which include: Geofencing technology to control where e-scooters are ridden and parked, and how fast they can travel in certain areas; an app-controlled helmet lock that secures a safety helmet to the e-scooters between trips to benefit safety-conscious riders; a topple detection feature that can detect if an e-scooter has been left on its side which then alerts an operations team to reposition it safely; a 999 emergency button which can tell if someone has had a fall and helps the rider call the emergency services; voice guidance to educate and warn riders of how to ride safely; and, a “Follow my Ride” feature that allows the rider’s friends and family to track an e-scooter trip in real time for added safety and peace of mind.

“Safety is our top priority, it dictates our e-scooter design and also the way we operate them,” says Zachary Wang, CEO of Neuron Mobility. “Our N3 e-scooters are jam-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 Rob Anderson, Slough Borough Council Cabinet Member for Transport and Environmental Services, said: “This is an exciting first for Slough. We are leading the way in the use of alternative electric vehicles and the potential benefits of their use in the future.”

“The town’s bus lanes, including the current experimental lanes on the A4, will be able to be used by the rental scooters leading to them being an attractive and sustainable way to travel in the borough.”

Neuron and the Council will be using geofencing technology to create ‘slow zones’, ‘no parking zones’ and ‘no go zones’ in specific areas across the town to improve safety. Each e-scooter is also fitted with a unique license plate number for easy identification and to promote responsible use. Neuron will be deploying a dedicated safety team, working around the clock, responsible for safety and sanitisation. Armed with hospital-grade disinfectant, they will help to keep e-scooters and their helmets clean and germ-free. As well as moving e-scooters to where they are needed most, the team will assist new riders with signing up on the app, and will deliver practical tips for safe riding.

Riders, who are over 18 and hold a full or provisional driving licence, will be able to book and use the e-scooters through Neuron’s user-friendly app. This can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play and set up in a matter of minutes. Single trips will cost £1 to unlock the e-scooter and 18 pence per minute thereafter. More frequent users have the option to purchase Neuron Passes, a subscription service, available in three-day (£15), weekly (£22), or monthly (£36) options. The packages will allow users to ride as many times as they want for up to 90 minutes per day for a fixed affordable price. This will result in no additional unlocking fees and savings of up to 90%.

Riding rental e-scooters became legal on the UK’s roads on 4 July, 2020. Speed will be capped at 15.5 mph and they will share the same road space as bicycles including low speed roads, cycleways and tracks. Privately-owned electric scooters remain outlawed for use on public land in the UK.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs in charge of public agencies around the world as well as chairmen and CEOs of multinational transportation technology corporations. Tom's early career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).