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Daily: Bolt to curb e-scooter speeds on Friday, Saturday evenings

A Bolt e-scooter, not parked in the correct location (ie. in a cycle lane in this case).
A Bolt e-scooter, not parked in the correct location (ie. in a cycle lane in this case). Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Estonia unicorn Bolt says it is cutting the maximum speed of its rental e-scooters, in the interests of promoting traffic safety.

The top speed will be reduced to 17 km/h, from the c.20-25 km/h available at present, though only on Friday and Saturday evenings, regional daily Lõuna Postimees reports (link in Estonian), in all 11 towns and cities Bolt's e-scooter rentals are available in, namely: Tallinn, Tartu, Pärnu, Haapsalu, Kohtla-Järvel, Narva, Jõhvi, Rakvere, Viljandi, Võru and Kuressaare.

Eimantas Balta, head of Bolt scooters for the Baltic States, noted that speed is one of the main elements of safe traffic, while the small size of e-scooters make their riders more vulnerable.

The company has also addressed another frequent gripe with the company's scooters, namely poor parking, while Balta said that no-parking areas have been expanded and tech is being developed to better identify cases of poor parking.

Tallinn has dedicated parking zones which also double-up as recharging stations, while an improperly-parked scooter can be reported via the Bolt app, Lõuna Postimees says.

The original Lõuna Postimees article (in Estonian) is here.

Bolt now dominates the e-scooter rental market and is feted as one of Estonia's half-dozen or so unicorn companies (meaning a market capitalization of a million U.S. dollars or more). Even U.S. socialite Paris Hilton recently lent her name and image to the company's e-scooters' image.

Nonetheless, the company has still faced public push-back, at least in its home country, over the issues noted above – poor parking, particularly when it obstructs sidewalks and other public thoroughfares – and fast moving and often intimidating e-scooter riders.

The reducing of speeds on weekend evenings only likely reflects the fact that alcohol often plays a role in e-scooter-related accidents.

At present, users must take a photo via their smartphone of a parked e-scooter at the end of a ride, with the risk of being barred out of the service for repeat offenses, while speeds are often automatically curtailed when a user enters, for instance, a pedestrianized zone.

Bolt also operates car rental, taxi hailing and food courier services. The company says it employs over 3,000 people in 45 countries worldwide.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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