A trip around Southampton on a Voi e-scooter

A trip around Southampton on a Voi e-scooter

by Nathan Goldsmith.

Forgive me, walkers, for this piece will only take you on a walk as far as your nearest Voi e- scooter dock. The rest of your day is going to be spent on two wheels at a leisurely pace of 12.5kmph. 

If the last two words of the first sentence sound strange to you, you might not have spotted the electric scooter trial that has been running across the south coast for a little under two years. And that wouldn’t be surprising – they’re quick! But they’re also nimble, designed to make getting around the city easier, and are fairly cheap too (£10 will get you a day pass, up to 200 minutes of riding). 

But more than making my trips across the city for work easier, Voi has allowed me to get to places that being on foot – or even the bus – wouldn’t. A big part of the theme of my writing is car-free adventures, but I feel like widening the scope of that just this once. 

Voi doesn’t allow riding in parks, requires you to use the roads and cycle lanes, and has slow-go/no-go areas. But don’t let that put you off. I’ve put together a route that allows you to cover what I think, and hope you will too, are the more scenic areas of Southampton and worth making a stop to see. You’ll pass Southampton’s oldest buildings, churches, and parks, and be able to use some quieter back roads.

There are a few steps before you start:

  1. Download the app
  2. Find your nearest Voi dock – these are all shown on the map on the app
  3. Upload a picture of your provisional/driving licence, and take a short test (2 mins) which are verified immediately
  4. Choose a day pass, or pay as you go
  5. Unlock a Voi!

I start my journey using a Voi from outside Junction Inn at St. Denys and go immediately up the hill to the Boardwalk. In 2010, 300 metres of boardwalk were installed between St. Denys and St. Mary’s, and they run a good length of the river. At high tide, and with the early afternoon sun shining down, the colours and clarity of the water are unrivalled. Costa Del Soton.

I continue towards St. Mary’s Stadium, where a bike path runs right around the perimeter, and takes you closer towards Southampton town. From here, I continue under the Itchen Bridge – to get to the Ocean Village end of Canute Road. It’s quite daunting to look at the bridge from this angle. 1970s now-darkened concrete was planted here as the foundations of the bridge, and it sure wants you to know about it.

I follow Canute Road along, passing the Canute Chambers (once the administrative offices of White Star Line, where blackboards were hung to display the names of those who perished on the Titanic). Along this road are buildings dating from the early 1800s, all of which are included in the Canute Road Conservation Area, and Southampton’s old train station and central hotel. Also along this road is God’s House Tower, where you can pick up a quick coffee and pastry, from the converted gatehouse that was once the way into Southampton town.

Centuries on, and it remains a good way into town, and the way I will follow. Sticking to the same road, down to the Dancing Man Brewery and past Mayflower Park, I divert up towards St. Michael’s Church (Southampton’s oldest building – built in 1070 by the Normans) and the Tudor House Museum. In this quad, I am in the heart of Southampton’s history. Tourists love it here, and so do I. 

Moving on from the history and towards the greenery, I follow along the cycle paths that were recently installed along The Avenue (with Vois and bikes in mind!), going up to the Common. Vois aren’t allowed on the Common, so you could dock up here and stroll around, or continue on with the route. I continue down one of the roads on Inner Avenue, to wing back around to Highfield and towards the University. 

Highfield is one of my favourite places for architecture. Formal country houses adorn city streets – complete with a church from 1847 – and picnic greens separate these beautiful developments. You can see most of the houses just along this road, though there are off-roads full of quaint cottages that the Vois can be taken down!

I move on and try to finish my trip, yet realise that even with a Voi – I haven’t seen half the city. I kept the journey purposely short, to get to the areas I would be able to on foot, but usually don’t because of the distance. I wanted to make it easy for people that were wary about Vois, to encourage more use of them. I wanted to show that despite how large our city is, and how many things there are to do, cars don’t have to be the first option for getting from A to B. And Voi incentivises not choosing the car. There are closer and better options for parking, you need the same licensing anyway, and to round it all off – it’s a bit more fun!

The Voi trial was recently extended across the south coast, so there’s even more time to set up an account and get on the move. My only warning is: it’s addictive!

For more information about Voi scooters, visit: https://www.voi.com/


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