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BEEP BEEP: Newcastle launches e-scooter trial as Neuron Mobility’s bright orange scooters hit the city’s streets

 Images: Neuron Mobility

Newcastle’s e-scooter rental trial will begin on Monday 15 February, with 250 distinctive orange e-scooters deployed across the city, the number will ramp up significantly as the trial continues.

The 12-month trial, operated by Neuron Mobility in partnership with Newcastle City Council, will provide the city with a safe, socially-distanced and environmentally-friendly transport option for those that must travel.

The trial was approved by the Government, following a successful bid by the city council and Neuron last year. The Department for Transport has called for the trial to be launched as quickly as possible so that the e-scooters can be offered to those needing to make essential journeys during Covid restrictions.

To kick off the trial and to respond to the COVID-19 situation in the city; Neuron is providing free passes to NHS and Emergency Services staff during the national lockdown, redeemable through the rates and passes section of the Neuron app.

During the first three months the company will also offer free rides for commuters between 5am to 9am daily.

As the COVID-19 situation improves there will also be more offers including those for university students and people on low incomes.

The e-scooters are GPS-enabled and Neuron and Newcastle City Council will use Geofencing technologyto control where they are ridden and parked, and how fast they can travel in certain areas by creating slow-zones, no-ride zones and no-parking zones. Each e-scooter will be fitted with a unique license plate for easy identification and to promote responsible use.

Neuron is deploying a dedicated safety team as part of the trial. They are armed with hospital-grade disinfectant to keep e-scooters and helmets completely clean and germ-free. Teams will be moving e-scooters to where they are needed most, assisting new riders with signing up on the app, and will deliver practical tips for safe riding.

Zachary Wang, CEO of Neuron Mobility, said: “We are delighted to partner with Newcastle City Council, e-scooters are a great socially-distanced transport option for those that really must travel. We’ve decided to provide free passes to NHS workers and also the Emergency Services. Also for the first three months there will be free commutes between 5-9am for those that have no option but to travel to work.”

He continued: “Safety is our top priority, it dictates our e-scooter design and also the way we operate them. Our e-scooters are 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 Arlene Ainsley, cabinet member for transport and air quality at Newcastle City Council, said: “We’re very excited to be launching our e-scooter trial with Neuron today. The e-scooters offer a safe, convenient and low-carbon transport option for people and we very much hope they will play an important role in helping to transform the way we travel around our city.

“While we remain in national lockdown, the scooters will primarily be for key workers and we encourage people to only use them for essential journeys at this time.

“The Neuron e-scooters have several important safety features as well as technology that can control where they can be ridden and their maximum speed in certain areas. In addition Neuron’s safety team will regularly clean both scooters and helmets using disinfectant so that people can be confident that the equipment is clean and safe to use.

“As the trial develops we’ll be working with Neuron to introduce more scooters in response to demand and we’ll be monitoring how they are being used to ensure the scheme is operating safely and effectively.”

Errol Taylor, CEO of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) said: “As the world adapts to life with COVID-19, it is more important than ever to encourage commuters to choose safe, socially-distant, travel options, such as e-scooters.

He continued: “We partnered with Neuron to ensure we could educate the public on the safest way to ride, and we're confident that with good user education, protective equipment and the technical interventions available on Neuron's e-scooters, we can create a safe, efficient and desirable way to travel around Newcastle.”

He concluded: “Riders should educate themselves on the rules of the road, including how to ride safely and responsibly. All Neuron e-scooters come with an app-controlled helmet so riders should ensure they use them at all times. Furthermore, riding dangerously, or while under the influence of alcohol is illegal and it is the responsibility of every rider to adhere to these rules.”

Newcastle riders will also benefit from voice guidance to educate and warn them of how to travel safely; a “Follow My Ride” feature which allows riders to share their trip with friends and family in real time for added safety and peace of mind; and a 999 emergency button which can tell if someone has had a fall, then help them call the emergency services.

The company will use a topple detection feature that alerts Neuron’s operations team if an e-scooter has been left on its side so it can quickly be repositioned safely. There will also be a range of ‘smart parking’ initiatives to control and promote safe parking, many of which are a first for the UK.

Riders, who are over 18 and hold a full or provisional driving licence, are able to book and use the e-scooters through Neuron’s user-friendly app, which 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 after that!

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