He's the fastest man in the world, but Olympic gold medal sprinter Usain Bolt came to the steps of City Hall in another role Tuesday: Celebrity pitchman for Bolt Mobility, an e-scooter company looking to break into the local market.

"I'm built for speed. Scooter is built for comfort and time," he said.

The only problem: Bolt could not actually ride the scooter he was touting. Electronic scooters and e-bikes are not legal in New York.

But that's why the sprinter was in New York City: Bolt Mobility is one of many companies pushing lawmakers to allow a test of scooter-sharing programs.

Will Nicholas, Bolt Mobility's head of operations, said the company's scooters are an environmentally-friendly alternative to cars clogging city streets. Its model has unusually large wheels, two cup holders, a USB charging port, and space for a bag.

"As you know, the streets of New York are pretty tough so we've had to design our scooter to be tough as well," Nicholas said. "We've used aluminum frames, 10-inch larger wheels, and bright LED lights on the front and the back."

A bill to legalize e-scooters and e-bikes is before the state legislature and the City Council.


Not everyone wants to see them on city streets, though. Upper East Side Activist Lola Finkelstein says the scooters pose a threat to pedestrians, especially the elderly.

But State Business Council Vice President Howard Becker joined Bolt Mobility to call for the passage of the legislation.

"We look forward to the day when people from Manhattan to Masina and Brooklyn to Buffalo can use their Bolt app and commute to work or to school," Becker said.

The company's name was established before it hired the world's fastest man as its global ambassador. He said e-scooters were the transportation of choice growing up in Jamaica when he wasn't running.

"Being on time was everything to me. My dad was all about time," Bolt said. "He always said, 'Be two hours early instead of one minute late,' so, to me, time was everything."

But if he wants to ride an e-scooter in New York, Bolt will have to cool his heels until lawmakers authorize them.