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Sunderland launches e-scooter trial, as Neuron Mobility’s safety-leading escooters hit the city’s streets

Sunderland’s e-scooter rental trial will begin on 31 March, with the first of 300 distinctive orange e-scooters deployed across the city. The 12-month trial, operated by Neuron Mobility in partnership with Sunderland City Council, will provide the city with a safe, socially-distanced and environmentally-friendly transport option for those that must travel. 

To kick off the trial -- and to respond to the COVID-19 situation in the city -- Neuron is providing free monthly passes to NHS and Emergency Services staff, redeemable through the rates and passes section of the Neuron app. During the first three months the company will also offer free rides for commuters between 5am to 9am every weekday. As the COVID19 situation improves there will also be more offers including those for university students and people on low incomes.

The launch of Neuron’s e-scooters on Sunderland’s streets comes soon after the company launched in Newcastle. As fleets of Neuron e-scooters are now available at both ends of the Tyne & Wear Metro, the e-scooters will provide an integrated first and last mile alternative to other forms of transport. Leisure travellers and commuters travelling between the two cities will be able to take advantage of this sustainable travel option to complement their journey at both ends.

The e-scooters are GPS-enabled and Neuron and Sunderland City Council will use Geofencing technology to control where they are ridden and parked, and how fast they can travel in certain areas by creating slow zones, no-ride zones and no-parking zones. Each escooter will be fitted with a unique license plate for easy identification and to promote responsible use.

Neuron is deploying a dedicated safety team as part of the trial. They are armed with hospital-grade disinfectant to keep e-scooters and helmets completely clean and germ-free. Teams will be moving e-scooters to where they are needed most, assisting new riders with signing up on the app, and will deliver practical tips for safe riding.

Zachary Wang, CEO of Neuron Mobility, said: “We are delighted to partner with Sunderland City Council, to provide e-scooters as a safe socially-distanced transport option. Our escooters will be able to provide a first and last mile alternative to those wishing to travel between Newcastle and Sunderland as they will be available at both ends of the Tyne & Wear Metro.” He continued: “Safety is our top priority, it dictates our e-scooter design and also the way we operate them. Our e-scooters are packed with cutting-edge safety features and our safety course and riding guidelines have been co-developed with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), the UK’s leading accident prevention charity.”

Councillor Graeme Miller, Leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Towns and cities across the UK and the globe are using and understanding more about how e-scooters offer extra choices and convenience for a more cost-effective, environmentally sustainable transport option. “E-scooters can be used by residents and visitors needing to make essential journeys under the current Covid restrictions and Neuron is providing free passes to NHS and emergency services staff that are redeemable through their app. “There are other offers available for commuters and as we come out of Covid restrictions further opportunities for e-scooter use in Sunderland will come on-stream. “All the e-scooters have hi-tech built-in safety features, all the equipment is cleaned and disinfected, and over the coming months we’ll see how this trial progresses and develops.”

Rachel Maclean, Transport Minister, Department for Transport said: “The trials of rental escooters starting in Sunderland could offer a socially distanced way of getting from A to B for key workers and those making essential journeys. “Learning from trials already taking place, Sunderland’s will see strict safety measures introduced - including license verification and responsible parking incentives, while also helping us better understand any impacts on public spaces.”

Nathan Davies, Executive Head of Policy and Portfolio, at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) said: “As the world adapts to life with COVID-19, it is more important than ever to encourage commuters to choose safe, socially-distant, and sustainable travel options, such as e-scooters.” He continued: “We see micromobility as an important part of the transport mix going forwards, and we launched our partnership with Neuron because of the company’s core focus on safety. We are confident that with good user education, protective equipment and the technical interventions available on Neuron's e-scooters, we can create a safe, efficient and desirable way to travel around Sunderland.” He concluded: “Ultimately, it is every rider’s responsibility to ride safely and follow the rules. All riders should make sure they look out for their own safety and also the safety of others. Don’t ride under the influence of alcohol, only one person should ride an e-scooter at a time, stay aware, and always wear a helmet.”

Neuron’s next-generation N3 e-scooters, already proven across Australia and New Zealand - - and more recently in Slough and Newcastle - have been purpose-built to a commercial grade, specifically for renting. They have visibly larger, 11.5” wheels and wider footplates than other e-scooters. They deliver the highest levels of safety, stability and rider experience, giving users an extra level of confidence as they travel around the city.

The e-scooters feature the world’s first app-controlled Helmet Lock which secures a safety helmet to the e-scooter, electronically releasing it to use at the start of the booking. This will be popular with safety-conscious riders as it gives them the opportunity to protect themselves.

As well as the Helmet Lock, Sunderland riders will benefit from voice guidance to educate and warn them of how to travel safely; a “Follow My Ride” feature which allows riders to share their trip with friends and family in real time for added safety and peace of mind; and a 999 emergency button which can tell if someone has had a fall, then help them call the emergency services.

The company will use a topple detection feature that alerts Neuron’s operations team if an e-scooter has been left on its side so it can quickly be repositioned safely. There will also be a range of ‘smart parking’ initiatives to incentivise and promote safe parking, many of which are a first for the UK.

Between 11pm and 5am, the e-scooters will not be available for use. All of our e-scooters are connected and we can turn them off remotely, so this is straightforward to implement.

Riders who are over 18 and hold a full or provisional driving licence, are able to book and use the e-scooters through Neuron’s user-friendly app, which can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play and set up in a matter of minutes. Single trips will cost £1 to unlock the e-scooter and 20 pence per minute after that.

More frequent users have the option to purchase Neuron Passes, a subscription service, available in three-day (£15), weekly (£22), or monthly (£36) options. The packages will allow users to ride as many times as they want for up to 90 minutes per day for a fixed affordable price. This will result in no additional unlocking fees and savings of up to 90%.

Important Riding Rules and Safety Tips:

● Riders must be 18 years old and above

● Must have provisional or full driving license

● No riding on pavements

● Helmets are not mandatory but their use is strongly recommended

● One rider per e-scooter

● Keep a safe distance from pedestrians

● Do not ride under the influence of alcohol or other substances

● Be aware and remove earphones

● Keep both hands on the handlebars

● Maintain a safe distance from other vehicles particularly when turning

● Park responsibly and don't cause an obstruction

Please note, failure to adhere to the rules may result in Police prosecution as well as points on, or a loss of a rider’s driving licence altogether.

Should anyone see any rider breaking these rules, please report the exact time, location and licence plate number to our 24/7 customer service centre.