Tallinn electric scooter rental: Three companies compared

Scooters in Tallinn outside the National Library.
Scooters in Tallinn outside the National Library. Source: Helen Wright/ ERR

No less than three companies are offering electric scooter rentals in Tallinn as of Wednesday. One company, Bolt, is reprising the service it first rolled out, quite literally in this case, in the capital last summer. It is being joined by two newcomer competitors – local firm Tuul and Prime.Bike, franchisee of American company Bird.

Bolt currently works out the cheapest of the three and has the largest range. Tuul is noteworthy in being all-Estonian – the scooters themselves are Estonian-made, as well as the app.

Bolt uses the same app as for its taxi-hailing service (though separate from the food-ordering app). As last year, the location of scooters is displayed on a map; scooters are unlocked using a QR scan or manually-entered code, and instructions for first-time users appear in the app. On completing the journey, the scooter is locked, again via the app.

The two newcomers to the market, Tuul and Prime.Bike, have increased competition, news portals Delfi and Geenius both report (links in Estonian).

The per-minute price across all three suppliers is the same, at €0.15, but unlocking fees and range of use within the capital (see map) do differ somewhat.

Bolt: Cheapest unlocking fee at €0.50. Furthest range, as far as Viimsi and Peetri, both outside Tallinn city limits. 15-minute ride will cost around €2.75. Maximum cost in a day - €15. New Ninebot MAX replaced its old fleet from last year. Says it hopes to expand its range over summer.

Tuul: Unlocking fee of €1, after discount during launch days. Smaller range than Bolt but still covers the city center (Kesklinn), Kalamaja, Kristiine, Mustamäe and Haabersti to the west of the city center, Pirita to the east and Ülemiste to the south. 15-minute ride costs around €3.25. The all-Estonian company, including scooter manufacture, which makes use of recyclable materials.

Prime.Bike/Bird – Unlocking fee of €1. Slightly smaller range than the others, covering the city center, Kristiine and Kalamaja, but not Mustamäe or Haabersti. 15-minute ride costs about €3.25. Operates in more than 100 cities in Europe, the Middle East and North America.

Rented electric scooters have a coverage of most of the streets featured on this map. Source: Google Maps

Users should also note the following:

  • Renters must be aged 18 or over.
  • Maximum speed of 20 km/h; the scooters themselves should be set to this limit, though riders are responsible for selecting lower speeds where necessary, in consideration of pedestrians and traffic.
  • A maximum speed of 25 km/h is allowed on Reidi Road, which runs from the harbor area to Kadriorg. This is because the road has wider sidewalks and separate cycle lanes.
  • It is advised to use a cycle lane where available, or failing that the sidewalk, when scootering.
  • Scooter hire firms also recommend the use of helmets, though this is not mandatory.
  • Areas where scooters can be left at the end of a journey are marked on the in-app map; leaving a scooter outside these zones results in a €40 fine.

CityBee, which supplied identical electric scooters to Bolt's for hire last summer, has withdrawn from the market. The company operates a short-term car and van-hire service, also using an app.

Bolt scooter app. Green dots represent available scooters, which cannot be parked after use in the red areas. Source: Bolt

Scooters for hire disappeared from the streets in late October last year in line with the increasingly inclement weather. At the time it was hoped they would reemerge in spring, a move delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. Safety concerns followed reports of minor accidents and incidents involving users, with new regulations drawn up for this season. Private electric scooter users are still subject to the same regulations.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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