People who live and work in Manchester have a new option for getting around the city, after the launch of a new bike-sharing scheme with no fixed docking stations.
Chinese company Mobike has stationed 1,000 of its silver and orange aluminium bicycles across Manchester and Salford and they are available to hire via mobile app.
The specially made bikes are equipped with a GPS tracker and built-in locks.
To use the bikes, you need to download the app and create an account using your mobile number. Pay a £49 deposit (£29 in July) and top up your credit, and you can then use the app to locate a bike near you. Bikes can be reserved for 15 minutes via the app.
Unlocking the bike is also done through the mobile app, by pressing the “unlock” button at the bottom of the home screen and then scanning the QR code on the bike.
Once successfully scanned, it will automatically unlock and you can begin your journey. Usage is charged at 50p per 30 minutes.
When you reach your destination, you can park the bike wherever you like within the boundaries of Manchester and Salford and manually close the wheel lock.
Mobike has teamed up with a local company to redistribute the bikes to places where there is high demand and to ensure the bikes are in good condition.
The bikes are built to last four years with no maintenance, thanks to non-puncture airless tyres, chainless shaft transmission, and wheels made out of aluminium magnesium alloy, which are indestructible even with a hammer, according to Steve Pyer, Mobike’s UK General Manager.
The company said they are ‘near impossible’ to vandalise and ‘pointless’ to steal.
Mobike is already in talks with other councils and claims there is “a lot of excitement” from cities in the UK and Europe at the prospect of introducing its bike-sharing technology.
Pyer, who previously spent seven years working on London’s “Boris bikes”, told City AM that Mobike’s offering is more cost effective to run because much of the cost for Transport for London’s bike-sharing scheme is taken up building the docking stations, which Mobike doesn’t have.
“Because the scheme is cost effective… it opens it up to a much broader user group,” he added. “Boris bikes are well known to be middle-class, middle-earner commuter. This is going to open it up to a lot more people.”