Kent County Council, Canterbury City Council and micro-mobility operator Bird, have teamed up to bring affordable, environmentally friendly electric scooters to the city Canterbury in Kent.
Kent County Council has been successful in bidding for a 12 month electric scooter pilot, with the Department for Transport giving the green light for the trial earlier this week.
The Council appointed Bird, the pioneers of electric scooter sharing, following a competitive tender process. Kent County Council, Canterbury City Council and Bird share the mission of making residents less reliant on cars, helping to cut congestion and harmful emissions.
Bird will solve ‘the last mile’ problem, where journeys are too short for public transport to be efficient, but too long to walk. Many of these journeys have traditionally taken place in cars adding to congestion and carbon emissions.
Bird’s scooters will give people in Canterbury an environmentally friendly alternative to taking a car. The trial is also aimed at helping people get around town while remaining socially distant from others.
Initially the trial will run on a controlled set route serving students from the University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University, helping them travel between the campuses more efficiently than ever before.
Once successful the trial zone will be opened up to a broader area, helping the whole community get around without creating congestion or harmful emissions.
Safety is a top priority for the council and Bird, and there are a number of policies and initiatives to make sure Bird becomes a positive addition to the transport mix. All riders must hold a provisional or full drivers’ licence and be over 18 before they can ride, said the council.
Bird has also worked with the council to geofence (a digital boundary) the approved route and the scooters will power down if they cross the boundary. It also has in app and in person safety training and will host safe riding events where it will give away free helmets to riders.
Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport Michael Payne said:“This year-long trial will initially see up to 100 electric scooters in Canterbury, located on the campuses of the University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University. At first the service will be limited to staff and students at both universities with the aim of slowly opening the scheme up to the wider community.
“The trial will help us establish how the scooters are used and how they interact with other highway users, though they will be limited to a set route between the two campuses.
“It is our hope that eventually everyone will be able to enjoy the benefits of sustainable travel as part of their commute, offering an alternative to car travel, with an ambition to help reduce congestion and improve air quality in Canterbury. Ultimately the scheme will help inform government as to whether this form of travel will be sanctioned on the highway network and if so, in what way.
“During our trial, the e-scooters will use the same road space as bicycles and will not be allowed on the pavement or outside of the trial area. This is in line with the guidelines that the government have indicated. Riders will also need to be over 18 and required to hold a full or provisional driving licence.”
Leader of Canterbury City Council, Cllr Ben Fitter-Harding, said:
“We’re pleased the bid for a trial e-scooter scheme in Canterbury has been successful, having submitted a letter of support alongside the county’s council’s application.
“Projects such as this encourage people to get out of their cars and can make a contribution to improving air quality. We look forward to seeing the trial in operation and understanding the potential for such a scheme to be expanded across the city.”
Caroline Hazlehurst, Head of EMEA operations, Bird said: “We’re delighted to have the opportunity to provide our services in Canterbury. We’re very much looking forward to helping the city’s student population get between campuses without adding to congestion. One of the biggest issues modern towns and cities face is increasing congestion and decreasing air quality. Bird’s mission is to partner with communities to help solve these problems by getting people out of cars and onto environmentally friendly sharable electric scooters. We’re very much looking forward to launching in the coming weeks.”