Voi threaten to pull e-scooters out of London, or flood it with bikes

Microbobility company Voi has called for urgent action over the operation of the London e-scooter trials, claiming that heavily regulation means they cannot compete with the proliferation of unregulated e-bikes in the city, where e-bike companies can deploy as many bikes as they like, wherever they like.

The company’s CEO and co-founder Fredrik Hjelm used X to voice his frustrations: ‘We are deeply concerned by the regulatory landscape for micromobility in London. Recently, we reached out to @SadiqKhan and @TfL, urging them to create a level playing field for e-scooters and e-bikes. Without fair regulations, I’ve asked the team to prepare for: either deploy 20,000 e-bikes to compete, or exit the market entirely.

‘We love London and consider it a home city for Voi, but our scooters are stifled by heavy regulations that curb their accessibility and convenience. In stark contrast, our competitor has introduced 20,000 e-bikes using a strategy reminiscent of Uber’s — act first, apologise later. These bikes face minimal restrictions, distorting competition and limiting the transport options available to Londoners.

‘London shows the lowest usage rates among the over 100 cities we operate in, a direct result of overbearing regulations that do not exist elsewhere—some of which compromise user safety (like misplaced slow speed zones) and others that merely add inconvenience (such as low parking availability). This must change.’

Hjelm has also made these observations in a letter to the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, listing some of the key issues faced by e-scooters but not e-bikes:

  • Only nine boroughs and the City of London are included, creating a ‘patchwork’ operating area and severely limiting where people can ride.
  • Insufficient parking spots, meaning the average walking time to a vehicle is over 6 minutes (the ideal is 2-3 minutes).
  • Age restrictions are set at 18+ (with 16+ being the DfT guidance).
  • Speed limited to 12.5 mph (below the 15.5 mph DfT limit).

In March another micromobility provider, Dott withdrew their e-scooters from London, saying at the time: ‘Through close collaboration with TfL we have been able to demonstrate that e-scooters can be integrated into London in a safe and responsible way.

‘But the rapid and unregulated rise of e-bikes has left the e-scooter service unable to compete. This meant that it was not possible for us to run a financially sustainable shared e-scooter service under the current market conditions in London.’

Fredrik Hjelm is claiming that Voi has two alternatives, the first being to withdraw from the city altogether, which, they say would ‘signal the failure and end of the TfL-led e-scooter scheme, creating an effective monopoly for a single operator.’  The second being to focus on the unregulated market by deploying 20,000 e-bikes across the city.


Paul Day
Paul is the editor of Public Sector News.


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