How to hire a Voi e-scooter in Portsmouth - how to unlock, where you can ride and how much it costs

E-scooters have become a part of daily life in Portsmouth since they were introduced to the city two years ago.
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Alongside Beryl bikes, Voi electric scooters are available for hire from dozens of parking points across Portsea Island and beyond – from Paulsgrove to Eastney. While some have seen their presence on our roads as a nuisance, others have hailed them as a green alternative to car journeys. The current trial period to assess their viability is set to continue until at least May 2024.

How to unlock

Voi e-scooters at a parking station in Southsea.Voi e-scooters at a parking station in Southsea.
Voi e-scooters at a parking station in Southsea.

First, you will need to download the Voi app from the Google Play store or App Store. Once you have installed and created an account, you will asked to complete a brief safety survey and verify that you have a full or provisional driving licence by providing a photograph. Use the map in the Voi app to find where the nearest parking rack is and if there are any scooters available. Next, scan the QR code on top off the scooter’s handlebars to unlock it. You will also be able to see how much charge the battery has. To start the vehicle, push off with your foot like you would an ordinary scooter and press down the throttle – on the right handlebar - with your thumb.

Where can you ride?

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Riders must stay in bike lanes or roads – never on the pavement. The map will also show you ‘no-riding’ zones and ‘slow’ zones. If you venture into one of these areas, the vehicle will automatically limit you speed or stop entirely.

What are the rules?

You must be at least 18 years old to ride a Voi e-scooter. Like any other vehicle on the road, the highway code applies and riders are encouraged to wear a helmet. Similarly, it is not permitted to ride an e-scooter under the influence of alcohol or drugs. At present, it is illegal to use a privately owned e-scooter on UK roads.

How fast are they?

The scooters are capped at a top speed of 12.4 miles per hour but tentative riders can engage ‘beginner mode’ which brings it down to 9.3.

How much does they cost to hire?

There is a fixed £0.99 unlocking fee and you will then be charged 16p per minute until you end your ride at a permitted parking zone. A day pass cost £10 while monthly passes are available at £35 for 300 minutes or £50 for unlimited use. There are also discounts available for NHS staff, military personnel, students, over 65s and people on a low income.

Why are they controversial?

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Misuse of e-scooters has led some people to voice concerns about their safety. Between the launch of its Portsmouth scheme in March 2021 and the middle of February 2022, 176 incidents were reported to Voi.

Last year, Portsmouth city councillor George Madgwick forwarded a motion to scrap the Voi scheme citing safety concerns and said: 'This city is not built for e-scooters.'

However, Portsmouth city council cabinet member for transport Lynne Stagg extended the scheme until at least 2024 and added: 'It's reassuring to know that so many people are embracing rental e-scooters as a more sustainable alternative to short car journeys, which can so often be avoided.'

For more information about the scheme, visit the council website.