Voi electric bicycles: e-bike hire service to go back on Peterborough roads after spate of vandalism

The operator of Peterborough’s e-bikes for public hire will relaunch today (Wednesday) six months after the service was vandalised.

By Paul Grinnell
Wednesday, 9th March 2022, 5:00 am
Voi e-bikes in the city centre EMN-210126-152210009
Voi e-bikes in the city centre EMN-210126-152210009

Voi Technology’s e-bikes for hire were withdrawn from service about six months ago after vandals caused extensive to scores of the specialist cycles causing thousands of pounds of damage.

In one incident alone last October 50 of the 129 e-bikes were damaged.

Matthew Pencharz, the UK’s Head of Public Policy at Voi, said: “We are delighted to be relaunching the service in Peterborough.

He said: “We are really glad to be back but we are just sorry it has taken so much time to get the problem fixed.”

Mr Pencharz said the vandalised had involved vandals hacking into the mechanics of the bike.

He said: “Some people had worked out a hack to trash the e-bikes. We have not seen this level of damage in other markets.

“The attrition rate was unmanageable and we had to withdraw the service to fix it.”

Voi e-bike rider with app

The new service will begin with 40 e-bikes using the same routes. There will also be more staff on the streets to monitor usage of the service that saved an estimated three tonnes of C02 and helped people get around town with 10,000 rides before it was withdrawn.

Voi is also giving away 50 per cent off Daily Passes and free helmets to celebrate e-bikes returning to Peterborough.

Mr Pencharz said: “We’ll see how the service goes and scale it up from there as rider numbers pick up.

He added: “We never considered not bothering again in Peterborough.

“It is really important during the transition to net zero to go on offering safe, sustainable and affordable alternatives to using private cars.”

The e-bikes service is a joint venture between Voi, which operates e-bikes for hire in many cities across Europe, and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and Peterborough City Council.

Mr Pencharz said: “The Combined Authority and the council were keen to restart the service and so were we.

“We never considered just canning it. I think that would have been irresponsible.”

Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Dr Nik Johnson, said: “Having e-bikes back in Peterborough is fantastic news for the city.

“Peterborough residents have very much missed the convenience and enjoyment that the trial has brought to their daily journeys, and so I am very glad to see them back with enhanced security.

“The e-bikes give people that extra push that we all sometimes need to move more and drive less.

“Also, as an ultra-low emission travel alternative to the car, they are an easy way to decrease your carbon footprint.

He added: “The Combined Authority is committed to supporting transport schemes that have public health, safety and environment at their core.

“E-bikes are a forward-thinking answer to reducing carbon emissions and improving air quality in city centres.”

Voi’s e-bikes have pedals that are assisted by an electric motor, giving a top speed of up to 15.5mph.

When fully charged, it has a maximum distance of up to 31 miles.

Peterborough has its own geographical area to ensure that No Ride, Slow Ride and No Parking Zones are observed, and vehicles are fitted with number plates and GPS.

This also makes it easier to identify and report instances of anti-social behaviour via the Report a Voi webpage to ensure the safety of riders, pedestrians and other road users.