Alex Bowden June 13 2017
A thousand Mobikes are to be made available for hire in Manchester and Salford after the Chinese dockless bike share firm was given permission to run a six-month trial from Thursday June 29. Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said that while the scheme was untested, he hoped it could play an important part in the region’s long-term plans for cycling.
Launched in Shanghai in April 2016, Mobike’s first year saw users cycling over 2.5bn kilometres – equivalent to a reduction in CO2 emissions of more than 610,000 tons, based on calculations by WWF China.
The firm now operates in 100 cities worldwide and boasts 5m bikes and 100m users. Manchester will be its first city outside Asia.
— Mobike UK (@MobikeUk)
Indiscrimately parked bikes have however been a problem in other locations and Today Online reports that Mobike has introduced 1,000 of its own parking areas in a bid to minimise the problem in Singapore.
The Chinese government has also been moved to insist that users must be older than 12 years, and be insured for personal accidents and third-party liability.
How does it work?
The Mobike app allows users to find a bike nearby and then unlock it by scanning a QR code.
Journeys are charged per 30-minute period, starting once the bike has been unlocked and ending once it has been locked again. Although Mobike is yet to release a full price list, the first and second 30 minutes will cost 50p each.
Bikes will initially be available at popular sites such as railway stations and university campuses (and presumably Metrolink stops). Mobike will then analyse usage data to redistribute them efficiently on an ongoing basis to meet demand.
The app uses a ‘credit score’ system to track users’ behaviour. Beginning with 100 points, you can either raise or reduce that score according to various actions.
For example, parking against the rules will lose you 20 points, whereas completing a normal ride will earn you a point – as will reporting a malfunction or a poorly parked bike.
Users with scores lower than 80 are subjected to a massive price hike. The cost will also increase if the app detects you riding outside the service area.
The scheme is not publicly funded or subsidised.