Bolt, the European mobility champion, is encouraging electric bike users to take extra precautions before mounting bikes this winter season as the traditional period of colder and unsettled weather kicks in over winter.
Bolt currently operates two shared e-bike schemes in Ireland, Sligo having launched in June 2022 with 65 e-bikes and Kilkenny in August 2022 with 50 e-bikes. Users on the schemes have travelled a combined distance of over 100,000 km to date.
Speaking on e-bike safety ahead of the current winter season, Operations Manager for Rentals for Bolt Ireland, John Buckley, said: “We have been overwhelmingly delighted with the uptake of our electric bike schemes in Sligo and Kilkenny to-date. Electric bikes and other forms of micromobility remain a viable alternative mode of transport for short to medium-length journeys year-round, but there are a few extra actions users can take to ensure maximum safety during the colder, and often wetter, winter months.
Electric Bike safety tips for winter
Ahead of the winter months, John Buckley provided some tips for users to ensure safety while using electric bikes this winter.
What is Bolt doing to ensure electric bike safety in Ireland this Christmas party season?
Cognitive Reaction Testing
Ahead of the Christmas season, Bolt is extending the operating hours for its built-in cognitive reaction testing from 12am – 4am to 10pm – 5am. This is to deter the usage of electric bikes if the potential user has been drinking alcoholic beverages.
Bolt operates its e-bikes during nighttime hours as a means of transportation for late-night workers, including those working in the hospitality industry and essential services such as healthcare.
Bolt asks that people refrain from using e-bikes when under the influence of alcohol. If a user or friend fails the cognitive reaction test they will be unable to hire a bike and Bolt urges people to find an alternative mode of transport such as a taxi, public transport or walking if the distance isn’t too far.
For user safety and the safety of others, be responsible and do not take the cognitive reaction test on behalf of someone who is too intoxicated to use an electric bike.
Electric Bike Maintenance
To cycle safely in any weather, it’s essential to maintain electric bikes properly. Maintenance usually means checking for a few simple things to prevent issues later down the line. Bolt’s technical team regularly looks over all bikes to ensure they are safe to cycle.
As a cyclist, it is still important to do a quick check before each cycle to ensure the brakes work, and that the wheels move smoothly.
If anything appears broken or not working quite as it should, users can easily report it through the Bolt app. Tap the little warning sign in the electric bike section, report an issue, and Bolt’s team will take care of it.
Using Electric Bikes in the Rain and Cold Weather
In typical winter weather, Bolt e-bikes are safe to cycle as they are built to be able to withstand rain. Users will still want to avoid extreme weather: torrential rain, high-standing water, and going to places with a danger of flooding.
Besides dressing warmly — with special attention to keeping hands warm by wearing gloves — It is important to be on the lookout for ice during cold snaps.
When temperatures fluctuate above and below freezing levels after rain or snowfall, black ice may form. Always avoid cycling on ice.
Cold weather can also affect e-bike batteries shortening the range a bike can travel. Keep this in mind when planning a longer cycle.
Here are Bolt’s top tips on how to stay safe and comfortable riding an electric bike in rain and cold weather:
Lower your speed. As the pavement can get slippy, lower speeds are safer. Wet tarmac provides less traction, so be extra mindful when turning. The Bolt app allows users to lower the maximum speed of the bike.
Brake early. Less traction also means slightly longer stopping times. All Bolt bikes have front and rear brakes to ensure safety, even in the highly unlikely case that one of them should fail.
Keep space between you and other road users so users can comfortably swerve or stop when needed to.
Stay visible. Rain also means lower visibility. Wear reflective clothing or reflectors. Bolt bikes have front and rear lights and side reflectors.
Dress for the occasion. Keep yourself warm and dry by choosing suitable clothing for the weather.
Using Electric Bikes in the Dark
The key to bike safety in low light conditions is increasing visibility.
Stay aware of your surroundings. Keep an eye out for slippery surfaces and debris.
Cycle In well-lit areas. Choose streets with good lighting for a cycle. This will help users to have a clear overview of their surroundings as well as visibility.
Be visible and audible. All Bolt bikes are equipped with front and rear lights as well as a bell. Use the bell to make yourself known to fellow cyclists and pedestrians.
Dress for the occasion. As per Road Safety Authority guidelines, wearing a high-vis vest or bright clothing provides cyclists with the best chance of being seen in darker conditions.
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