Bolt, co-founded by Olympian Usain Bolt, brings its e-scooters to Baltimore

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Bolt scooters in nearby D.C. Photo by BeyondDC, via Flickr.

The last of Baltimore’s four licensed dockless transportation firms has arrived, per an announcement today from the company Bolt.

Co-founded by and named for Olympian runner Usain Bolt, the firm touts durable e-scooters and a business model of hiring full-time employees–not freelancers–who charge and check that the devices are working properly.

Sarah Haynes, co-founder and co-CEO, said in a statement that she’s pleased to bring the company’s scooters to her home state, where she also received her bachelor’s degree.

“Baltimore is an especially exciting city for us to launch in as during my time studying at the University of Maryland Baltimore Campus, I became intimately familiar with what draws people to this great city, while also experiencing the transportation challenges that impact local traffic and mobility,” she said.

A company spokesperson said they’re starting off with 150 scooters. A permit from Baltimore’s Department of Transportation, granted in August, allows for up to 1,000 scooters from Bolt and Ford-owned Spin, and up to 1,000 scooters and bikes apiece from Lime and Uber-owned JUMP.

Today’s launch puts Bolt in 15 cities around the world. The company said it hopes to expand to 40 markets by the end of the year.

Baltimore has implemented rules for the companies to follow, both in council-adopted legislation and additional regulations set by the Department of Transportation. Among them are requirements to serve all areas and park scooters in designated “equity zones” daily, rather just highly trafficked, primarily white neighborhoods; share usage data with the city; remove scooters from sidewalks overnight; use geo-fencing to automatically reduce speeds in certain areas and more.

Violations are punishable by $500 or $1,000 fines, depending on the offense.

Weekly scooter usage data published by DOT through July suggest a continuous, substantial net increase in ridership over the 10 months before the current permits took effect for the four chosen companies. That included 208,321 rides alone logged during July.

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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in CityLab, Slate, Baltimore City Paper, DCist and elsewhere.
Ethan McLeod
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