Bolt Mobility gets red light in Washington, DC


Bolt Mobility gets red light in Washington, DC

Observer writer

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

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Usain Bolt's American scooter firm, Bolt Mobility, is one of four scooter companies which will no longer be operating in Washington, DC according to a number of Washington-based media organisations.

Eight electric scooter companies are operating in the area and according to the Washington Post, “currently, the eight companies permitted to operate deploy just over 5,200 scooters combined”.

Only four of these companies have been given permits by the District Department Of Transportation (DDOT) to continue operations. They include Spin, Skip, Lyft and Jump, while the other four that will have to remove their scooters are Bolt, Lime, Razor and Bird.

The reduction in permits is part of a new DDOT policy focused primarily on safety.

“Earlier this fall, DDOT released revised terms and conditions for the 2020 dockless vehicle sharing programme, which reflects the district's commitment to safety, equitable access, and accountability,” the department announced on its website. “The revised structure is designed to meet demand and improve programme operations by limiting the number of permits, increasing the dockless vehicle fleet, and expanding requirements to deploy dockless vehicles in areas underserved by transportation options.”

While this is a setback for Bolt Mobility in the Washington DC area, the district is only a small part of the company's ambitious expansion plan. In October it was announced that the company launched in Baltimore, and at the time Bolt Mobility was present in 15 cities in the USA and around the world.

Since then the Jamaican track and field legend has launched Bolt Mobility in Japan, despite regulatory challenges that exist there. Such challenges, however, are part of the landscape of an expanding scooter industry around the world, as regulators in various cities and countries are in different stages of evolution when it comes to addressing issues related to safety, congestion, where they should be used, and even how they are constructed in terms of size of wheels, brightness of lights and speed.

Features that help to make Bolt Mobility scooters stand out in a crowded market include dual foot rests that face forward for better balance and control, switchable batteries, cup holders, and a storage bin.

The setback in Washington DC is unlikely to daunt Bolt Mobility's plans as scooters continue to grow in significance offering transportation solutions for commuters to what is called the 'last mile' problem — how to traverse the distance between the bus stop or train station and their final destination which is too close to drive and too far to walk. E-scooters also do not result in direct emissions because they run on electrical power, and using them instead of cars helps to decrease the overall traffic emissions from motor vehicles in cities.

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