Last Updated on Thursday, 26 August, 2021 at 11:10 am by Andre Camilleri
VLADIMIR PUZANOV has been a part of Bolt Malta since day one. He initially joined Malta’s local operations team and rose to the ranks of Corporate Account manager. Puzanov ultimately launched Bolt Scooters in 2019 and has been involved in their expansion in the country. From abandoned scooters to injuries, Dayna Camilleri Clarke finds out how Bolt is tackling the increasing challenges within the rise in popularity of E-scooters and if they are considering to introduce fines.
When were the e-scooters introduced, and how many are in Malta?
Locally, we launched the Bolt scooters in August of last year.
Who is eligible to use them?
The safety of our users is of utmost prioritye to us, and we follow the micro-mobility regulations by Subsidiary Legislation 499.67. The legislation states that anyone who has a valid driving licence (Category A, AM or B), issued in conformity with the motor vehicles (Driving Licences) Regulations and is 16 years of age, can ride scooters.
How do you check that riders are legally compliant?
Our team is exceptionally diligent when it comes to checking the legalities. In fact, all our users must enter their date of birth to access the E-Scooters tab on the Bolt app. They are all notified that the use of E-Scooters in Malta requires a valid driving license as regulated by the Subsidiary Legislation. Additionally, everyone must confirm that they have successfully passed a Highway Code theory test or hold a valid driving license. For example…
We see more and more negative images on social media of scooters blocking pavements and abandoned in scenic areas. What steps are you taking to prevent this from happening?
We strongly encourage responsible usage of scooters and are regularly taking steps to educate our customers. In addition, the team is religiously working to create and implement various educational, promotional campaigns with the local authorities, namely Transport Malta and Lesa.
Aside from this, we have been restricting certain areas from scooter parking upon request where scooters were found dangerous or obstructive, or those found left in private properties. The team also developed a Safety Toolkit available for our customers, which is available at all times with all the necessary safety guidelines and local requirements before riding. In fact, we came up with an alternative way of informing us of badly parked scooters for those who do not yet have the app. Anyone can send us a report on https://bolt.eu/en/report-scooter/
Do you have any penalties in place for riders who abuse the system?
We are warning users about the no-parking zones at this stage, and if they decide to end their ride in the restricted area, a €50 fine will be applied to their fare. The user has the right to either accept the fine or move away from the restricted zone and end the ride as normal without any fine. However, we also keep in mind that it doesn’t justify imposing a hefty fine forming nearly 30% of the vehicle’s value to the operators. Our goal is to make sure that we are following the Law Enforcement Agency’s rules and regulations and that our users are parking the scooters correctly. With that said, we are not saying fines shouldn’t be issued; it is just that they must be revised to keep the micro-mobility sector sustainable.
Do you see any trends locally? Are they increasing in usage and popularity?
Yes. The usage and popularity of scooters to cover short distances have spiked in recent months, especially during the pandemic. And I believe that it will continue to grow. Our goal is to make moving around cities easier, faster and more reliable.
Are you the only company renting out scooters locally?
We were the pioneers in the sector of shared micro-mobility– launching Bolt scooters in Malta last year. As of now, we have three other operators on the market.
How do you check that the scooters are roadworthy and safe?
All of our users are asked to rate their rides after every trip. Moreover, we also consider data such as ride speed, route footprint on the map and feedback from the users. The statsistics are monitored daily so that our team of mechanics can notice and deal with any issues reported or seen during the daily scooter inspection before deployment.
If a rider gets hit or hurt, are they protected with insurance?
We follow the rules and regulations from the Subsidiary Legislation 499.67. According to them, no electric kick scooter may be used on the road in Malta unless third-party risk insurance covers it in compliance with the Motor Vehicle Insurance (Third-Party Risks) Ordinance requirements.
Do you feel more should be done to educate riders on the law of where they can be used?
Absolutely, and we are constantly working towards educating our users. I firmly believe that everyone should be aware and understand that the micro-mobility market is still progressing. It is easy to ban anything new, but making something new workaround for many stakeholders is much more challenging. Therefore, we should take this time as a learning curve not just as operators but also regulators, riders and the local society , the residents. Because of this, it is fair to say that together we can make the change and tailor the laws, improve the infrastructure and educate riders on the proper ways of parking.