New Voi e-bike hire scheme coming to Liverpool with 500 set to hit streets alongside e-scooters

The first 50 e-bikes of the cycle hire scheme will hit the streets in August.

Love them or loathe them, the e-vehicle revolution continues apace in Liverpool with e-scooter operators Voi due to launch an e-bike scheme in the city next month.

The cycle hire project, which will see 500 e-bikes eventually in operation on Liverpool’s streets, was given the green light at a council cabinet meeting on Friday.

The new e-bikes will be launched in mid-August, starting with a roll out of 50.

The e-bikes will operate within the same boundaries as the e-scooters, which covers 80% of Liverpool and uses the same geofencing/parking models. Voi will be launching a digital pass and subscription service in the coming weeks.

The council will now begin the task of removing all the Citybikes, which were originally launched in 2014, and will look to donate them to local charities and community groups.

Voi’s e-bikes are dockless, similar to the e-scooters, so do not require docking stations as seen with the Citybike scheme, which was becoming increasingly costly to maintain. By replacing the Citybikes, the council estimated they will save £300,000 a year.

Councillor Dan Barrington, cabinet member for environment and climate change, said: “I’m very pleased officers have worked with Voi to introduce a replacement scheme which will ensure there will be a seamless transition.

“As to the Citybikes I’m delighted they will remain in the city with those still in good working order being handed over to charities and community groups, and those in disrepair to be used as parts, ensuring the scheme has a positive legacy on our environment.”

Image: voiscooters.com

Sam Pooke, Senior Policy Manager at Voi UK said: “We are delighted to continue to work with Liverpool City Council to provide our e-bikes in addition to the existing Voi e-scooter scheme. To date, over 2.6 million rides have been taken on Voi scooters, replacing an estimated 1.1 million short car trips, with thousands of people relying on them daily to commute, shop or enjoy the city.

“Residents and visitors can benefit from these two green and complementary modes of transport, reducing the need to use private cars across the city.”

Criticism of e-bike and e-scooter scheme

The new project has not been met with universal acceptance, with some campaign groups pointing to particular problems they might create for certain sections of society.

Sarah Gayton, National Federation of the Blind of the UK street access campaigns coordinator, who has been taking photographs and video footage of misuse of e-scooters, said: “The dockless micro-mobility business model is simply not safe or accessible for blind, visually impaired pedestrians, people using mobility aids and vulnerable pedestrians like small children, who need the pavement to be a safe space for them to get where they are going.

“The NFBUK have undertaken numerous visits to London where dockless bikes are in operation and they are often seen causing obstructions on the pavement and on pedestrian crossings. People just leave them anywhere and even if there are painted bays for them many are on pavement space creating further obstructions for pedestrians.

An e-bike badly parked in the middle of the pavement. Image: NFBUK

“One of our members in London sustained nasty injuries to his legs when he tripped over one left randomly on the pavement. There are absolutely no excuses for the bikes not to be docked and locked off the pavement for people to use them in a safe manner.

“Liverpool City Council ... need to pause the launch of the scheme and ensure lockable docking stations off the pavement are provided for users to allow bikes to be left in a safe location.”

E-scooter operator Voi has partnered with an app which it says will allow blind and visually-impaired people to get ‘real-time information’ on parking locations.