Chinese bike-sharing scheme ‘Mobike’ set to launch in London

A budget bike-sharing scheme allows users to locate and hire bikes in west London from September 2017

Shafi Musaddique
Monday 31 July 2017 12:59
With 750 bikes available, Mobikes could become a familiar sight in the capital
With 750 bikes available, Mobikes could become a familiar sight in the capital

A low cost bike-sharing scheme hugely popular in China is set to debut in London just weeks after its UK launch in Manchester.

Mobike will operate a pick-up-and-ride scheme that does not rely on docking stations like the ones currently used by the Santander “Boris bikes”. It will debut with 750 bikes in September. Bikes will be available for pick-up in the London borough of Ealing for use across the whole city.

Users will be charged 50p per half hour after paying a £29 initial deposit. Mobike users can book their bikes via an app and unlock them using a QR code. The company says that it will operate a GPS system on each bicycle, helping to locate and monitor the condition of bikes. Each one will reportedly have a shelf-life of four years.

Local authorities have already greeted the arrival of the dockless bike scheme. Julian Bell, leader of Ealing Council, said: “We have a wide range of cycling support already in place, including free cycle training, free maintenance checks and free guided bike tours, and this affordable, dockless bike scheme will complement all these. I look forward to seeing more residents leave their cars at home and switch to a Mobike instead.”

Steve Pyer, general manager for the UK division of Mobike said: “We’re committed to working closely with Ealing and other boroughs to make Mobike, and bike-sharing as a whole, a successful experience for Londoners.”

Mr Pyer said he thought Mobike could help increase the attractiveness of travelling to outer boroughs and said that he hoped the scheme would contribute “to the creation of new business and local, friendly spaces”.

“We pride ourselves in being a truly positive and enduring benefit for the areas that we work in. That was the case in Manchester, and we’re confident it will be the case in London, starting with Ealing,” he said.

Mobike said on Monday that the app is available to download. Beyond its native China, Mobike has launched in Florence and Milan last week. It operates in more than 150 cities globally; Manchester is its first UK location.

Bike-sharing shemes have proved popular in recent years and Mobike’s compatriot rival Ofo is reportedly in talks to raise £765m in a funding round backed by Japan’s Softbank.

Both Ofo and Mobike reportedly raised $1bn each late last year, boosting market share at home and overseas. Mobike’s valuation reached between $2.7bn and $3bn after June’s funding round, according to Reuters.

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