The boss of the company hoping to provide electric scooters in the borough has said the scheme could create 25 jobs in the town.
Bolt, which provides e-scooters in 51 cities across Europe, is hoping to operate a scheme in Rochdale, Greater Manchester after the borough council gave the green light to a trial scheme.
The contract to run the pilot scheme has been put up for tender and Bolt are the font runners to secure the contract.
Matt Barrie, Bolt’s UK country manager of rentals, told the Observer that the initial trial would see 100 to 125 e-scooters introduced in key locations in the town and would have the possibility of creating 25 jobs.
He said: “We’ll plan to have a light launch in March to kick things off.
“When we get a look at what that demand looks like we can then work with the council to build out the surrounding infrastructure such as physical docking stations in places of high demand high footfall like a train station or high street.
“We can scale up depending on demand, if a scooter has been used for three rides in a day that means demand is more than the supply. It’s exciting.”
The e-scooters are designed to be driven on the road, riders must have a full or provisional driving licence, and the same rules as riding a bike apply to that of riding a scooter.
Some of the e-scooters will be dockless – meaning they do not have a permanent ‘home’ – but must be returned to a designated parking zone at the end of each journey and the company hopes they will be used for short distance journeys of under 5km.
As part of the trial the company will also provide 50,000 free helmets to residents, whether they choose to ride a scooter or not.
Matt added that with the scheme the company will look to employ local people in their operation.
“We’ll be based in Rochdale,” he said.
“It’s not us coming in saying this is how we do things.
“It’s working with people who’ve lived in Rochdale for a long time to understand what does and doesn’t work in the town so we really do try and take that localised approach and it works really well.”
Jobs potentially on offer include operations and warehouse managers as well as mechanics.
He added that the main focus of the scooters will be to target the first and last miles of people’s journeys such as from the home or office to the train or bus station – with discounts for regular commuters, key workers and teachers.
Matt also says the scooters can help with social distancing as it means people do not have to be close together while travelling.
In Manchester a similar scheme of electric bikes, called Mobikes, proved unsuccessful with the bikes being stolen or vandalised – but Matt is confident that his company could prevent a repeat in Rochdale.
He said that the brake cables and onboard computer are enclosed in an aluminium casing to prevent tampering.
There is a loud alarm when the scooter is not being ridden but is being moved or tampered with, which Matt says acts as a good deterrent to potential vandals.
Also, to prevent the scooters being ridden on pavements they are fitted with geosensing technology which will slow the scooters to a halt if not being ridden on the road.
Matt also said that education is key to rider safety and that there is mandatory online training course users must complete within their first five rides.
Bolt has provided e-scooter schemes in 51 cities across Europe, including in similar sized towns to Rochdale such as Tartu in Estonia, Kosice in Slovakia, and Katowice in Poland.
Matt says he is confident that the company’s track record in Europe will make the scheme a success in Rochdale.
He said: “If we saw a lot of vandalism we wouldn’t be in business for too long.
“We operate in Ukraine and Poland where vandalism is somewhat higher than they would be in Rochdale so that gives us confidence that we’re able to provide a service there and we can also provide a quality service in Rochdale.”