Solihull Council has partnered with Silence UK to host a taster session for local residents to test ride new state-of-the-art electric mopeds (e-motos).
It’s hoped these cheap to run, fully electric vehicles could play a significant role in cutting both congestion and harmful carbon emissions along some of the busiest routes in Solihull.
The taster day took place at the new ZF Group office and technical centre complex, based at the Blythe Valley Business Park. Expert instructors from Birmingham Advanced Motorcyclists (BAM), who are based at the National Motorcycle Museum in Solihull, were on site to demonstrate some basic bike-handling skills as participants took the e-motos on a twenty-minute trial run.
The initial taster session was open to eligible residents who live along the Stratford Road and regularly commute or travel by car. Following on from the test ride, participants can opt-in to an extended, free-of-charge trial period, lasting between two and four weeks, during which they will be encouraged to swap their regular car journeys and use an e-moped instead.
The trial period is designed to further understand how these types of electric vehicles can reduce not only carbon emissions but also the number of single-occupancy cars on the road, cutting congestion and freeing up space for public transport, especially along key transport routes.
This project forms part of the wider West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) funded UK Central investment programme, which is delivering a wide range of projects, from walking and cycling improvement schemes to town centre regenerations.
Cllr Ken Hawkins, Cabinet Member for Economy and Infrastructure, said:
“As more of us are going back into the office and returning to previous travel habits, we have a unique opportunity to look at how we might start to do things a bit differently, especially when it comes to how we get around.
“Electric mopeds clearly have wide applications for couriering smaller items and food delivery but they also offer a clean, practical and affordable means of personal transport, and crucially an alternative to many shorter car journeys. This project is all about giving people the opportunity to try something different and see if they can be encouraged to leave the car at home. e-motos have the potential to cut congestion and improve air quality.
“As a former police motorbike patrol officer I’ve had a lot experience with traditional motorbikes, and I really enjoyed having my first go on an e-moped. It felt easy to ride and perfect for shorter journeys around town.
“It was great to see so many participants sign up for the extended trial – and I hope that some may even end up investing in their own electric moped!”
Cllr Andy Mackiewicz, Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Planning and Housing, said:
“With COP26, the UN Climate Change Summit, well underway in Glasgow, this pilot is just one of the innovative initiatives we are exploring to help play our part in tackling carbon emissions.
“We know that 39% of all carbon emissions in the borough are currently attributable to transport, with road traffic accounting for nearly all of this. Making the switch to electric vehicles, including e-motos is going to be an essential part of our journey towards net-zero.
“This trial scheme shows Solihull residents that there are accessible and greener alternatives to cars, which not only help to save them time and money but also help the environment.”
One of those taking part in the taster pay was Derek Hinks who usually drives to work at Blythe Valley Business Park:
“I had a great time trying out the new e-moped, and am definitely keen to ride some more.
“I’m not sure if I’d be ready to swap my car for an electric moped full time, but I can already see how it would make some journeys, including the commute cheaper, quicker and more enjoyable.
“I’ve signed up for the extended trial scheme so I can see how I get on with using the e-moto day-to-day – after that, I might just be tempted to get one for myself! It’s certainly feels like the future of shorter distance travel.”
Silence UK Founding Partner Mike Rose who recently opened their ‘urban eco-mobility’ headquarters here in Solihull said:
“As we move into a critical phase in our collective response to the climate crisis, the way we move around towns and cities demands more attention than ever before.
“Silence e-motos offer an environmentally friendly transport solution that is also cheaper to run, and it was really encouraging to see so many residents recognise their potential. We can’t wait to see more e-motos on the road in the coming months.”
Amongst those taking part were a number of employees at ZF where the event was being hosted. Alastair McQueen, Systems Engineering VP at ZF Group Group and ZF Hu UK Site Lead said:
“We’re very pleased to have facilitated the e-moped taster day at our site. There was a great turnout and we were especially encouraged to see some of our staff have a go, with several already signed up to the extended trial scheme.
“As we work on making our business even more sustainable we’re delighted to see our staff thinking about the ways they can individually reduce their own carbon footprint.”
If this initial extended trial scheme proves successful, Solihull Council hope to continue its work in collaboration with Silence UK to roll out similar initiatives across the borough.