The Irish startup Zipp Mobility has landed an agreement with a town in the UK to run a 12-month trial.
The micro-mobility firm has been “appointed by Somerset West and Taunton (SWT) Council to run a 12-month e-scooter trial scheme in Taunton, the county town of Somerset”.
“SWT is [committed] to tackling climate change, and has implemented several initiatives to help create a more sustainable future for everyone,” says Cllr Peter Pilkington, executive member for climate at SWT Council.
“E-scooters offer a cleaner, low carbon alternative to cars and provide another green alternative to get around and allow for social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic.”
E-scooters, while illegal to use in most of the UK, were made legal for use on UK roads, cycle lanes and cycle tracks in selected trial areas in July 2020. Since then, more than 35 local authorities in the UK have submitted bids to the UK Department for Transport to carry out e-scooter trials.
What is Zipp Mobility?
Zipp Mobility, founded by Charlie Gleeson in 2019, emerged from NovaUCD, the Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs at University College Dublin (UCD). The company is also an Enterprise Ireland High-Potential Startup (HPSU).
The Zipp Mobility e-scooter features an “aircraft-grade aluminium frame”, 10-inch airless tyres, a swappable battery, dual braking, a broad base and a low centre of gravity. The scooters also come with anti-viral handlebar wraps that kill 99.98% of coronaviruses to help eliminate COVID-19 transmission risk.
Are e-scooters safe?
E-scooters can be dangerous, just like any other vehicle. Ahead of the e-scooter trial going live, SWT Council and Zipp Mobility will host a series of training and education days for members of the public.
When someone hires a Zipp scooter, they will only be able to use them within set geographical boundaries of the town.
The UK Department for Transport says that “only e-scooters involved in the trials can be used in public areas”. It remains illegal to use privately owned e-scooters in a public space in the UK.
The council ‘strongly recommends’ that users attend one of the training sessions before taking to the road. These sessions will help give an understanding of the rules of their use, as well as emphasising the importance of personal safety while on the road.
“I would urge anyone who owns an e-scooter to take note of the laws around their use. Remember, an e-scooter is a ‘vehicle’ and that any misuse can lead to penalty points on your driving licence,” says Pilkington.
Pictured (l-r) at University College Dublin are members of the Zipp Mobility team; Will O’Brien, vice-president of growth and government affairs; Ben Duffy, operations lead; Robert Coyle; investment lead; Charlie Gleeson, founder and CEO; Síofra Brady, growth associate and Lorcan Brophy, investment associate. (Photograph by Saiful Haque).