Bolt Mobility, an electric scooter sharing company co-founded by sprinter and footballer Usain Bolt, has made its UK debut. There’s only one problem: its scoooters aren’t legal to ride in the country.
The launch took place at Bolt’s Tracks and Records restaurant in London, where guests were able to try scooters on a three-meter stretch of floor downstairs. Powered scooters are becoming a common sight on British streets, but private spaces like this are technically the only places where they’re allowed by law.
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Bolt Mobility is already hiring out scooters in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and and in May 2019 expanded into Paris.
The Bolt Scooter Rental app will recognize UK users, and clearly has all the infrastructure set up for the service to launch as soon as possible.
At the time of the launch, however, it showed only one available scooter in the UK, in a part of Cambridge highlighted in red and somewhat alarmingly flagged as a ‘bad area’.
“I know it’s not legal here in London, but that’s what we’re working on,” said Bolt at the launch. “We’re here to show you how we can help, and bring awareness, to let you know that this is a solution for all the traffic.”
Not so fast
It’s taking time for authorities to catch up with the booming electric scooter industry, and while some cities are opening up to the vehicles, others are tightening their roles – including Paris, where scooters will be restricted to a top speed of 20kmph (12mph) from July, and banned from parks and gardens.
“One of the biggest things I’ve noticed traveling and competing around the world is all this traffic,” Bolt said. “I’ve been to Paris, New York, Miami – I’ve been all over the world, to so many cities, and it’s always the main problem for me. So when we decided to do this launch, for me it was a no-brainer, because I know about time, and what it means to be on time. So I was happy to be a part of this, and to push this.”
Usain Bolt speaks at Bolt Mobility’s launch event in London (Image credit: TechRadar)
Unfortunately for Bolt, it’s going to take a little more than good intentions to kick-start electric scooter sharing in the UK.
Legalizing powered scooters means a change in high-level legislation, and the current state of UK politics (with a new transport secretary still getting his feet under the table and likely to be reshuffled by a new prime minister, the summer recess due to start, and the looming specter of Brexit), it’s not at the top of anyone’s to-do list.
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