Sligo kicks off Bolt plan for 2,000 e-bikes nationwide

European transport tech company Bolt is planning to have 2,000 of its ‘e-bikes’ deployed in locations across Ireland.

he € 7bn Estonian transport app, which also runs taxi services, recently launched e-bike rentals in Sligo, with 100 bikes.

It has secured a license to operate in another city but has not yet disclosed 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 there will be 2,000 e-bikes available for Ireland,” Buckley said.

“We have the Sligo scheme up and running. That’s Bolt’s first scheme in Ireland and that’s for us to prove ourselves. ”

Buckley joined the company earlier this month from Bleeper, the Irish start-up that holds one of the bike-sharing licenses in Dublin, alongside Moby.

Dublin City Council has limited the number of bike-share licenses in the city to two operators, which has led to companies launching operations in other jurisdictions.

Zipp Mobility, an Irish start-up, launched its e-bikes in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown recently.

Bolt has pitched its e-bike operations to councilors and authorities around Ireland, including in Cork, Waterford and Wexford, as part of an offensive charm to build up more operations in the country.

“There’s a need for e-bikes in the other regional towns and cities, so we’re open to discussing this with any of the larger towns and cities,” Buckley said.

Bolt is expected to announce its next location for e-bikes in August. Buckley said Bolt is pushing a different method in regional towns compared to the approach required under Dublin’s rules.

“In Dublin, the bike has to be tethered to a bike stand. In Sligo we have adopted a different methodology in that we’re using fixed virtual parking locations. ”

The method employs GPS to ensure a bike can only be parked in specific locations designated by the council. Several other bike and scooter companies employ this technology.

“The benefits of such is not requiring infrastructure to be put in place. That allows for a quick rollout. It also means that we’re not taking over existing bike parking infrastructure in the town from private cyclists. ”

The Sligo pilot is expected to run for 12 months during which data on the usage and demographics will be gathered.

Buckley added that it has no plans to alter the pricing for use of its bikes.

Bolt is also among several firms lining up e-scooters for launch in Ireland, pending the passing of long-delayed legislation.

Buckley said he is optimistic that legislation will be enacted next year and that it will launch e-scooters around the country.

“We would be in a position to move very quickly on that.”

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’s a demographic there”.

“Dublin obviously is the prize for everyone but with Bolt going into these regional towns such as Sligo and this other one, it’s the commitment to Ireland that we’re giving.”

Bolt operates in dozens of cities in Europe offering ride-hailing, micro mobility and food delivery. It raised € 628m earlier this year, which valued the company at over € 7bn.

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