Fredrik Hjelm co-founded Voi in 2018 and has led the company since then. As our CEO, he is ultimately responsible for ensuring that safety remains a top priority for Voi.
You founded Voi with a vision of supporting living cities. How does safety fit into this agenda?
Our vision at Voi, which we share with many cities worldwide, is to make urban areas less reliant on cars. Heavy vehicles are the main hazard on our streets, and thus our vision is not only about making cities more sustainable but also safer. Shared micromobility is an essential piece of the puzzle in offering alternative transport options to reduce car usage in urban areas. However, introducing new vehicles and making them widely available comes with safety challenges, particularly when new or inexperienced road users start using them. Therefore, as an operator, it’s elementary for us to do all we can to educate users on road safety and how to ride our vehicles safely. After all, we work in traffic and just as safety has been a concern for automotive companies and traffic planners for decades, it’s a top priority for Voi.
I personally believe all businesses, and especially the ones operating in “the real world” – not only digital – should put Safety on top of their agenda. Several studies show the economic benefits of that, even when not accounting for the human tragedies that occur in for example mobility, healthcare and manufacturing when safety incidents take place.
Micromobility safety has been a contested topic over the years - is Voi doing enough to prevent accidents?
I’m the first to admit that more can – and should – be accomplished to improve the safety of shared micromobility. That said, we have made significant improvements to ensure the safety of our service over the past few years. Safety permeates everything we do, from vehicle development to operations and marketing.
In addition, we’ve taken significant steps to strengthen our capacity to leverage different data sources and improve safety. We do this through in-house R&D and by collaborating with academia and other partners. For us, it’s vital to take a data-driven approach to truly understand the critical safety issues and develop safer vehicles, operations, behaviours and streets.
Do you have any predictions related to micromobility safety for the coming year?
I hope and expect that more cities and government authorities will recognise the value of the data that operators can collect through sensors and user reports. As we explain in this report, there are many opportunities to use this data to improve safety and traffic flow in urban areas.
Most of us agree that urban space needs to be redistributed from cars to give more space for bike lanes and maintain these safely. Data from connected micro-vehicles can help inform decision-making for creating tomorrow's safe, sustainable cities.
The industry still faces safety-related challenges, which are best solved through close collaboration with cities. Data sharing and cross-sector partnerships are essential to fulfil the true potential of shared micromobility.