European transport technology company Bolt plans to deploy 2,000 of its ‘e-bikes’ at locations across Ireland.
The €7bn Estonian transport app, which also operates taxi services, recently opened a 100-bike e-bike hire shop in Sligo.
It has secured a license to operate in another city but has not yet announced where.
John Buckley, the company’s new head of rentals, said this is part of a €5m investment Bolt will make in micro-mobility vehicles such as bikes and e-scooters in Ireland.
“I have a firm commitment that 2,000 e-bikes will be available for Ireland,” Buckley said.
“We have the Sligo program going. This is Bolt’s first project in Ireland and we want to prove ourselves with this.”
Buckley joined the company earlier this month from Bleeper, the Irish start-up that owns one of Dublin’s bike-sharing licenses alongside Moby.
Dublin City Council has limited the number of bike sharing licenses in the city to two operators, which has led to companies operating in other jurisdictions.
Zipp Mobility, an Irish start-up, recently launched its e-bikes in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown.
Bolt has unveiled its e-bike operations to councilors and authorities across Ireland, including in Cork, Waterford and Wexford, as part of a charm offensive to build more operations in the country.
“There is a need for e-bikes in the other regional cities and towns, so we are open to discussing this with all major cities and towns,” Buckley said.
Bolt is expected to announce its next e-bike location in August. Buckley said Bolt is pushing a different method in regional cities than the approach required under Dublin rules.
“In Dublin, the bike must be tied to a bike stand. In Sligo we have implemented a different methodology, using fixed virtual car parks.”
The method uses GPS to ensure that a bike can only be parked in specific locations determined by the council. Several other bicycle and scooter manufacturers use this technology.
“The advantages of this are that no infrastructure needs to be set up. This enables a quick rollout. This also means that we are not taking over the existing bicycle parking infrastructure in the city from private cyclists.”
The Sligo pilot is expected to run for 12 months during which usage and demographic data will be collected.
Buckley added that it has no plans to change the prices for using its bikes.
Bolt is also among several companies targeting e-scooters for launch in Ireland pending the passage of long-delayed legislation.
Buckley said he’s optimistic the legislation will come into force next year, bringing e-scooters to market across the country.
“With that, we would be able to move forward very quickly.”
Dublin is the main market for e-scooter operators, he said, but Bolt would consider launches similar to the e-bike pilot in Sligo “once there is a demographic there”.
“Dublin is obviously the prize for everyone but with Bolt going to these regional towns like Sligo and these others it’s the commitment to Ireland that we give.”
Bolt operates in dozens of cities across Europe offering ride-hailing, micro-mobility and food delivery. At the beginning of the year, 628 million euros were raised, valuing the company at over 7 billion euros.
https://www.independent.ie/business/irish/sligo-kicks-off-bolt-plan-for-2000-e-bikes-nationwide-41827292.html Sligo launches Bolt plan for 2,000 e-bikes nationwide