Islington council has given permission for Mobike to launch 200 of its bikes. It thus becomes the first London borough to allow multiple dockless bike-share firms to compete for users.
Mobike will be up against Ofo which arrived just a few weeks ago following a successful launch in neighbouring Hackney.
Both services cost 50p for 30 minutes – although while Mobike requires a £29 deposit to join, Ofo does not currently charge.
Joseph Seal-Driver, the general manager for Ofo, said: “We welcome competition in Islington, just as we did in Oxford when Mobike launched there several months after us. It’s healthy and ultimately benefits the public.
“Our product stands out in the industry as an example of how dockless schemes should be run. We’re the original, the oldest, and have therefore had longer than anyone else to refine our service, our bikes and our app.
“Our three-speed bikes are light, nimble and fun to ride and our app makes finding and hiring them simple,” he added.
Steve Pyer, Mobike’s UK General Manager, commented: “Islington is an important milestone in growing our presence in London. Islington is a stylish, energetic, multi-generational borough – and already has a strong cycling culture.
“Working with forward-thinking local authorities, such as Islington, is an essential part of the way we operate, as we believe strong relationships with public transport organisations, council representatives, mayoral teams and other city stakeholders is vital to the success of bikesharing.”
Councillor Claudia Webbe, Islington Council’s executive member for environment and transport, expressed her hope that bike-sharing would help the borough become more bike-friendly.
“Bike-sharing is rapidly becoming an easy option for thousands more residents and visitors who want to get around quickly, cheaply and conveniently. These schemes are now part of the public transport mix in Islington. Car ownership is already among the lowest in London and we have been working hard for many years to make the borough a safer and more attractive place to cycle.
“Mobike will particularly help residents in areas that do not have on-street cycle docks, meaning even more people can switch to take advantage of two wheels – a healthier, more environmentally friendly and cheaper way to travel.
“As with other cycle-sharing firms, we have a Memorandum of Understanding with Mobike setting out clear terms and conditions and we will work with them to ensure the scheme is properly managed, that bicycles are sensibly distributed to cater for demand, and any disruption or inconvenience to pedestrians is avoided. We’re happy to welcome Mobike to Islington.”
However, local campaign group Cycle Islington says more needs to be done if cycling is to take off in the borough. It recently wrote to the council regarding what it sees as “limited progress on improving access to cycling”.
It told the London Evening Standard: “The main reason people are not cycling is because of a lack of safe routes.
“We focus most of our campaigns on infrastructure — getting protected bike routes and reducing through-traffic on quiet roads. There needs to be a positive vision. There seems to be a fear of making meaningful change to street layout to improve walking and cycling over cars, parking and through-traffic.”