The world’s largest bike-sharing company has announced that it is launching a ‘European first’ cycle hire scheme in central Manchester and Salford this month.
Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham reacted cautiously after Urban bicycle sharing service Mobike said it would launch a six-month pilot scheme on 29 June, which will see 1,000 bikes made available for public hire in the two cities.
Mobike already operates in China and Singapore
The bike has a built-in smart lock and there is a cashless smartphone app system to go with it, which will allow cyclists to pick up and drop off hire bikes at any convenient legal cycle parking location, rather than needing to obtain or park them at dedicated docking stations.
The Mobike app enables users to locate a nearby bike using inbuilt GPS mapping, rent it, and unlock it automatically by scanning a QR code on the bike.
Mr Burnham said: ‘This scheme could help make cycling more accessible to people, but it is an untested idea in the UK and we will need to keep this under review.
‘We’re conscious that our city centre is a complex and busy area already, so TfGM has been working hard to establish a voluntary code of working with Mobike to make sure the service operates in a way that doesn’t inconvenience other road users, pedestrians or city centre traders.’
The pilot is the first non-docking station scheme on this scale in the UK and will not be publicly funded or subsidised.
Bikes will initially be available at popular sites such as railway stations and university campuses and Mobike said it will employ usage data analysis to redistribute them efficiently on an ongoing basis to meet user demand.