Helen Pidd North of England editor
Thursday 6 July 2017 10.45 BST
I was sceptical about Manchester’s new hire bikes, fearing they would all end up at the bottom of the Ship Canal.
Yet just a week after Chinese firm Mobike plonked 1,000 silver and orange two-wheelers on the streets of Manchester and Salford, I’m already a convert. Yes, there have been a few glitches with the app (you’re supposed to be able to reserve a bike for 15 minutes but I haven’t been able to for a few days), and I’ve no idea what those messages say that they’ve sent me in Chinese. But Mobikes are significantly better than London’s hire bikes, or any I’ve tried in other cities across the world. Here’s why:
1 You can leave them
2 They’re cheap
3 They’re fun to ride
4 The system rewards good behaviour
5 They aren’t a massive drain on public funds
Of course, they are not perfect. If Mobike are reading this please consider:
- Bigger bikes for taller riders. The saddles on the current crop won’t go high enough for anyone much over six foot.
- Bigger, better baskets that can hold a supermarket bag of shopping without everything falling through the gaps.
- More robust mudguards. The fenders on a few of the bikes I’ve tried have already started catching on the tyres.
- More bikes! A thousand is a good start but the scheme will only work if there are enough in circulation so that there’s always one within five minutes walk from anyone who wants to use one.