European shared mobility leader Bolt, in partnership with Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, has officially launched its shared electric bike service across parts of the area today. The occasion was marked by an event attended by Bolt and the council at White Rock beach. The service arrives just in time for European Mobility Week which starts on September 16 and aptly ends with Car-Free Day on September 22.
Though the council area already benefits from an abundance of different transport modes that crucially aren’t the private car, the service from Bolt offers residents and visitors something brand new in a multitude of ways.
To start, it has an affordable €0.18 per minute charge and no unlock fee. Market research often says that the price point of a transport mode determines its utilisation. Since Bolt and DLR CoCo have the common goal of shifting private car use to public and shared transport, especially ahead of Car-Free Day, this is crucial.
Another quality important to consumers, and a differentiator of Bolt’s service, is ease of use. Notably, Bolt’s bicycles have pedal assisted motors. This means they can be used in different ways to push bicycles. For example, riders of Bolt’s e-bikes can scale DLR’s notorious hills or put kilometres behind them (aided by the region’s fantastic cycling infrastructure) without breaking a sweat. This means they can be a genuine alternative to the private car, and connect coastal towns (such as Dalkey, Killiney, Shankill) and Cherrywood with Bray. Additionally, the service provides an important link with Dart and bus services which helps people commute in a sustainable way. The value this can bring can be seen in the almost 3250 people that have cycled more than 38,000 kilometres since the service launched in nearby Bray in late June.
It is not, however, only users of the service that are getting something new. Bolt is a firm believer that transport needs to work for everyone, including pedestrians. Consequently, the firm has a suite of features and smart technologies which ensure the service is used responsibly.
For those with no or little experience of bicycles with pedal assisted motors, there is ‘Beginner Mode’. This limits the top speed of the bicycle to 15 km/h. Once ‘Beginner Mode’ is turned off, the bicycles have a maximum speed of 25 km/h.
The GPS technology packed into the bikes brings a wealth of benefits. For example, in collaboration with the council, Bolt has implemented go-slow zones (where speed is limited to 15 km/h), as well as no-go zones (where the bikes aren’t allowed to be ridden whatsoever).
GPS also brings benefits even when the bikes aren’t being used. Bikes will be stationed in designated mandatory parking locations on public realm and private property (as agreed with the landowners). This means riders will be shown where they can park their bike through the app and physical signage. Not only does this mean the bikes won’t take up space reserved for private bicycles at popular bike racks, Bolt can also see if a parking location is at risk of being overwhelmed and take action. This could be in the form of the local operations team shifting an appropriate amount of bikes to another location, temporarily disallowing bikes being parked in a specific location or discounting trips from a location to ensure the bikes get moved.
The roll-out of the bikes in these areas is a pilot programme and is subject to amendment, pending feedback from all corners of the community. Feedback of all kinds is welcome and can be shared in-app or by emailing Ireland@bolt.eu.
Though the service will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the company will be employing an in-app cognitive reaction test 11pm-5am. This means prospective riders have to prove they are in a fit state to ride a bicycle through their reaction time.
Another way in which the Estonian company offers a unique proposition is the taxi service that can be ordered within the very same app. This means a wide variety of mobility needs can be met within the Bolt app alone. For example, citizens can ride a bicycle to a public transport hub or destination in DLR at the start of the night, and then get home safely by taxi after public transport services have stopped for the night.
Bolt will further support users taking the right mode of transport at the right time and discourage the usage of its bike service whilst under the influence of alcohol by offering a discount for its taxi service to those who fail its cognitive reaction test*. The company will offer this discount during launch week whilst everyone gets familiar with the new service.
Bolt Operations Manager for Rentals in Ireland and Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown resident, John Buckley, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled that our electric bikes will be available to residents and visitors to the southern parts of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown. We offer something completely different – an electric bike service that can get you up that hill, and a taxi service that can get you home safe at night, all in one app. And what fantastic timing, just on the eve of European Mobility Week which encourages everyone who can give up their private car to do so, a cause which is central to our company mission. Providing people with more convenient options make that prospect more likely for many.”