European shared mobility leader Bolt has joined forces with Sligo County Council, Sligo Gardaí, ATU Sligo and the National Council for the Blind of Ireland to develop and put on a training school at the university where students can learn and practise how to use shared electric bikes safely and responsibly.
The Bolt Safety Academy will be open 12-2pm on Wednesday 4th October at “The Fish” on the ATU Sligo campus and will be the first of its kind in the country.
Attendees can test their knowledge with a localised online test about how to use and park a shared electric bike safely and responsibly across Sligo. In a move that demonstrates fruitful cross-industry collaboration, the content of the test was jointly developed with the NCBI, ATU Sligo, ATU Students’ Union and Sligo County Council. Attendees will then be able to put their knowledge into practice by cycling around campus with guidance from Sligo’s Community Garda team.
The Safety Academy is expected to be busy as it’s part of the Universities’ “Connect for Success”: Your First Five Weeks” orientation programme which is dedicating a week to highlighting the various health and wellbeing resources available to students on campus. To further encourage attendance and learning, Bolt is rewarding those who complete the test with 20 minutes of free Bolt cycling which can be used at a later date, whilst those who partake in the test ride will be given a free helmet. In order to encourage usage, attendees can personalise their helmet on-site.
The Estonian-based company is also taking the opportunity to debut a brand new safety feature called the reckless rider score. Bolt’s software will calculate if a bike is being ridden recklessly according to sensors which can recognise multiple behaviours such as skidding or abrupt braking. A user’s reckless rider score is evaluated every five rides. If it falls below a certain threshold, they will receive education, a mandatory lower speed and a suspension according to how long the score remains.
The objective of the Safety Academy is two-fold. It’s intended to teach students and locals how to use a shared electric bike service responsibly – Bolt’s service has received a warm reception since arriving in June 2022. The academy is also intended to educate how to engage safely with light electric vehicles more generally, with the legalisation of shared electric scooters expected by the end of the year. Bolt is the largest scooter provider in Europe with over 260,000 scooters and e-bikes in operation.
The credentials and presence of the Tallinn-headquartered firm continues to grow in Ireland. Though Sligo was the first town to embrace the shared electric bikes, there have been launches in Kilkenny, Wexford, Bray, Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown, and Carlow just a couple of weeks ago. Bolt intends to roll out the Safety Academy everywhere it has operations in due course.
In addition to the reckless rider score, it has a strong suite of technology that encourages safe, responsible usage. For those with no or little experience of bicycles with pedal assisted motors, Beginner Mode limits the top speed to 15 km/h, down from the normal 25 km/h. Though the service operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the company employs 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 and, if they’re unable to do so, are encouraged to take a taxi instead (including Bolt’s very own on-demand service in Bray and DLR).
Cathaoirleach, Cllr. Gerard Mullaney said: “Sligo County Council have been impressed with the usage of the Bolt e-bike scheme. Since launch in June 2022, Sligo has had almost 7,000 unique users, with almost 200,000 kilometres travelled on the bikes. This usage is contributing to modal shift away from the private car, which is very positive in our endeavours to reduce emissions from transport. Sligo County Council welcomes the launch of the Safety Academy in conjunction with Bolt and ATU. This is a significant opportunity to promote safety and awareness, and encourage correct usage of the e-bike system.”
Sligo Councillor Marie Casserly said: “The Bolt e-bikes have been a great addition to the whole town, but especially for providing students and staff at ATU with better access to hassle-free transport. We want to make sure the bikes are being used in a safe and responsible manner so I’m delighted to be working with Bolt, ATU, NCBI, the Students’ Union and the Council to educate students and help keep them safe.”
Head of Public Policy for Bolt Ireland, Aisling Dunne, said: “It’s been fantastic to see our shared electric bike service be so embraced in Sligo. With darker, wetter winter months approaching, and the regulation of shared electric scooters expected this year, it’s especially crucial to continue to remind riders how they can keep themselves and pedestrians safe. We’ve been delighted to collaborate on this important work with such respected partners.”
Healthy Campus Coordinator ATU Sligo, Yvonne Kennedy said: “ATU Sligo, through our Healthy Campus initiatives, aspires to create a learning environment and organisation culture that enhances the health, wellbeing and sustainability of its community, and enables our campus population to achieve their full potential.
“Our partnership and support of the Bolt e-bike scheme, along with Sligo County Council, has been a very positive one for us. We have embraced the Bolt e-bike service with open arms – we have several Bolt bike stations located all around our campuses, making them a convenient and alternative mode of transport. There are obvious health benefits (both physical and mental) to using an e-bike – as a mode of transport to get to and from the college campus – but it is also much more sustainable, which aligns with our Green Campus goals.
“The ATU Sligo campus population is one of the biggest users of the Bolt e-bikes and we want to ensure that they do so in a safe and responsible way. Healthy Campus, along with ATU Sligo Students Union, were delighted to work with them in the development of the Bolt Safety Academy, and are honoured to have them here at ATU Sligo for the launch. It is crucial that our campus population use the Bolt e-bikes in a safe, responsible, and respectful manner and I would encourage all our on-campus users to take part.”