A young man is recovering in hospital after sustaining serious injuries while riding a Voi electric scooter in Birmingham. Medics rushed to help the 16-year-old following an accident that occurred around 5:30am on Monday (February 20).
The Balsall Heath incident is the second involving one of the ubiquitous pink scooters in as many months. In December, 12-year-old Mustafa Nadeem died while riding one on Bordesley Green.
Voi, who runs the big Birmingham e-scooter test, has helped police on both occasions. But its eco-friendly services have been criticized by some locals who want to stop the scheme.
SURVEY: Should electric scooters be banned?
You cannot ride a privately owned e-scooter on public roads and Voi’s machines are the only ones allowed in the region. There are three test zones in Birmingham, Coventry and West Bromwich.
The Brum trial version launched in September 2020. Customers can find and drive an electric scooter via the Voi app, paying £1 to unlock a machine and 20p per minute to ride.
While they have attracted security concerns, the popularity of the scheme has skyrocketed. Some 32 areas across the country have commissioned trials in all.
Birmingham Live decided to find out how easy it was to get a Voi electric scooter and ride it around the city centre. You can watch the video above to see how it went.
It took us less than five minutes to download the app and hit the road. But there were several pages of instructions and we were forced to “verify” before we set off.
This meant taking a photo of the front and back of a driver’s license and submitting a selfie. It was a quick enough process, but the security messages were plain to see.
We were told that only those over 18 with a driver’s license could use a scooter. We were also advised to wear a helmet, not to ride under the influence of alcohol, and to make sure there was only one person on board.
We were forced to break a rule immediately as no helmets were to be seen near our row of scooters on Colmore Row. We’re left wondering if riders were encouraged to bring their own, and how many actually did.
But the biggest question we had was this: how come so many young people seem to get their hands on Voi e-scooters? Especially when, as we saw, the checks seemed robust.
A Birmingham City Council cabinet report found that electric scooters had only caused a small number of injuries. The trial is scheduled to run until May 2024 despite what some councilors called “significant issues”.
Following the news of Mustafa’s death, a spokesman for Voi said: “First of all, our thoughts are with the family and friends of the deceased. The news of this tragic accident has shocked us deeply. We are in contact with West Midlands Police and are providing them with all the necessary information. We will fully support their ongoing investigation.”
After this week’s crash, the company added: “We are assisting West Midlands Police with their investigation into an accident at Balsall Heath. We have also started our own investigation into the incident.”
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