E-scooters driving reduction in carbon emissions and better air quality in Birmingham



Almost a third of the 450,000 e-scooter trips taken in Birmingham since a trial was launched in September have replaced car journeys according to a survey of riders.

That means an estimated reduction of 66 tonnes of carbon dioxide in Birmingham city centre contributing to the #WM2041 ambition to achieve a net-zero carbon region over the next two decades (1).

According to an e-scooter rider survey 31% of respondents said they would have otherwise used a car to complete their journey – that equated to about 140,000 car journeys at the time of the survey.

E-scooters driving reduction in carbon emissions and better air quality in Birmingham

Mayor Andy Street meets staff at the Voi warehouse in Birmingham

Operator Voi, which runs e-scooter hire schemes in major cities all over Europe, was selected last year to run the scheme in the West Midlands. The trial was launched to see how e-scooters could provide a green alternative to the car and public transport for shorter journeys and support action on climate change.

The central Birmingham trial zone includes both the QE and City Hospitals and, under the Voi 4 Heroes programme, NHS and Emergency Service workers have taken more than 54,000 free rides. 

Voi also offers a variety of other discounts, including travel to and from vaccination centres, rides for students and users from low-income groups.

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street recently visited the Voi warehouse in Birmingham to check on the progress of the trial.

He said: “It is incredibly clear from this data that e-scooters are helping to cut out unnecessary car journeys, helping to tackle air pollution and the climate change emergency in the process.

“This is very encouraging, especially when you consider how popular this new form of transport is proving – with nearly half a million rides taken in Birmingham since the trial launched.

“People have of course raised legitimate concerns around the trial, but I am pleased that Voi as the operator are taking all feedback on board and engaging with those who have concerns to make positive changes to improve safety and enforce responsible riding.”

The e-scooter trial is one of many being undertaken in towns and cities across the UK under Department for Transport direction. Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), in collaboration with Birmingham City Council, is overseeing the Birmingham trial.

Cllr Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council and WMCA portfolio lead for transport, said: “I welcome the positive findings that show that e-scooters are already having a positive impact on air quality in Birmingham, helping to reduce our reliance on private cars and giving people a new option in how they travel around our city.

“Birmingham City Council is committed to cleaning up our city’s air, and alongside the Clean Air Zone which came into force last month, e-scooters are one of the many ways that we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide, and poisonous nitrogen dioxide, that is in the air that we all breathe.

“I will continue to work with Voi to ensure that the e-scooters are used properly, and that the important issues raised by Birmingham residents over the use of e-scooters are addressed to make them safer for all road users.”

Only over 18’s with a valid driving licence are allowed to hire and ride e-scooters – and only Voi’s coral-coloured vehicles can be legally used on our streets, within the trial zone.

Voi rental e-scooters operate at a maximum speed of 12.5mph, below the recommended by the Department for Transport (15.5mph) and no ride and slow ride zones (5mph) have been created using geofencing technology.

It is illegal to ride a private e-scooter on public roads and places.

Voi has taken steps to improve safety and convenience following feedback from riders, local authorities and other road users.

Jack Samler, general manager at Voi UK and Ireland, said: “E-scooters have potential to reduce our daily reliance on cars and create cities that are healthier and better places to work and live.

“As the trial progresses, we are committed to amplifying the benefits of e-scooters whilst continuing to invest and work closely with our local partners in Birmingham to ensure everyone can benefit from this affordable, convenient and green way of travelling.”

  1. The estimate for carbon reduction is based on a carbon calculator was built with and validated by Dr. Manos Chaniotakis, lecturer in Transport Modelling and Machine Learning from UCL's MaaSLab. It is based on our ride data, local car replacement rates collected via user surveys (Spring 2021), the UK governments emission factors for cars and buses (DEFRA/BEIS, 2019) and Voi's carbon emissions based on the Life Cycle Assessment conducted by EY and our carbon neutrality. All emission reductions are calculated in CO2 equivalent units, meaning they factor in all other GHG emissions.

 

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