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UK e-scooter trials: Spin’s Steve Pyer on innovating to integrate
26 January 2021
The e‑scooter trials across the UK are an exciting opportunity for towns and cities to experience first-hand what they can offer.
At Spin — Ford Motor Company’s e‑scooter offering for public hire — we believe that e‑scooters work best when they are integrated properly into the cities in which they operate. Minimising disruption for other road users and pedestrians is key to the integration, public acceptability, safety and, ultimately, the success of e‑scooters. In this regard, there are lessons that must be learned from the introduction of dockless bikes.
Technology has a critical role to play. In selected future trials,Spin scooters will be equipped with apavement-facingcamera, as well as an array of sensors and on-board computing power, which maps streets and learns as e‑scooters move around. The benefits are twofold. The technology notifies the rider in real time if they are riding incorrectly – such as on pavements – prompting them to correct their behaviour, whilst also capturing aggregated and anonymised data that Spin will share with local authorities.
Another issue that is rightly scrutinised is parking, for which we, as operators, must all have compelling solutions. Users want to be able to park near their end destinations or transport connections, and pedestrians rightly demand pavements be left clear of clutter. The way in which we achieve this balance is partly determined by which parking model works best for a local authority. Whether a city has a dockless-based model, parking hubs designated in-app, or hubs with physical infrastructure – all of which are currently being trialled in the UK – operators must be able to adapt.
We are proud of Spin’s record on parking compliance. Inspired by our connection to Ford, we put this down to great in-app education, proactive community engagement, clear designations of parking hubs in the in-app map, and, where applicable, quality physical infrastructure. We have brought the same proven approach to our UK operations. Looking ahead, we are excited about another application of our technology, which can communicate with riders in real time to ensure riders are parking within the rules set by the local authority.
The UK’s e‑scooter trials are first and foremost a learning opportunity. I passionately believe that to maximise this opportunity, towns and cities must see the best of what e‑scooters have to offer. For us at Spin, this means bringing forward the latest technologies combined with a responsible approach to operations to ensure that our e‑scooters integrate seamlessly into local communities and transport systems, for the benefit of everyone.