Bolt to launch its first Irish e-bike rental service in Sligo

16 May 2022

Bolt electric bike at Doorly Park in Sligo. Image: Bolt

Users in Sligo will be able to rent e-bikes using the Bolt app from next month as the company expands its services in Ireland.

European mobility company Bolt plans to launch its first electric bike service in Ireland next month.

It is bringing 100 e-bikes to Sligo town in a pilot scheme, which is part of a wider push for Bolt to deploy 16,000 e-bikes across Europe this year following a recent fundraise.

The pilot project will trial a range of parking options to offer flexibility and ease of use for cyclists, while taking pedestrians and other road users into account. Bolt said it will also invest in “lasting bike parking infrastructure” for Sligo town.

Local representatives discussed the 100-bike pilot scheme for the town yesterday (15 May) at the Let’s Play Sligo event to mark National Bike Week.

“Sligo is an ideal town in which to launch Bolt’s e-bikes in Ireland, with the growing university, recently increased investment in cycling infrastructure and real public support for making sustainable choices,” Bolt head of public policy in Ireland Aisling Dunne said.

“We’re excited to support a forward-thinking council determined to provide alternatives to private car use.”

The rental price for one of Bolt’s electric bikes is €0.15 per minute. A number of safety features are included on the vehicles, such as geofencing technology that prevents high speeds in designated zones where the number of pedestrians may be high.

“I expect the shared electric bike scheme to be hugely popular, and will provide the impetus for this Council to explore and introduce further sustainable travel initiatives in the future,” chief executive of Sligo County Council Martin Lydon said.

The Estonian start-up behind the Bolt app aims to eventually bring its full suite of mobility services to Ireland, including e-scooter and car-sharing schemes. It also operates food and grocery delivery services.

The company first launched in Ireland in December 2020, rolling out its taxi-hailing product to compete with existing apps FreeNow and Uber. Bolt expanded this service to Cork in March.

Last year, the company promised to roll out 10,000 e-scooters in Ireland after draft legislation paved the way for the regulation of e-scooters and e-bikes on Irish roads. When the regulation was published in October, Bolt was one of several micromobility start-ups that said it was eyeing the Irish e-scooter market.

However, a new policy plan published last month indicates that e-scooter operators will have to wait until 2023 to get the green light to launch in Ireland.

Bolt has grown rapidly since its founding in 2013. At the start of 2022, the company announced its largest ever funding round of €628m, led by Sequoia Capital and Fidelity Management and Research Company.

The start-up now offers micromobility services in more than 170 cities across 20 countries in Europe. Overall, the company currently has 100m customers in 45 countries and more than 400 cities across Europe and Africa.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic