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Chinese giant wheels out ‘Uber for bikes’ in Manchester

Can Mobike peddle away from other global competitors?

By Tom Ball

Chinese company Mobike are set to launch a bike sharing scheme in Manchester, looking to spread the new ‘Uber for bikes’ model globally.

The move will entail an initial 1,000 bikes that will be used on a ‘dockless’ basis, with the company aiming to sow the seed of expansion in the west and gain dominance within the space.

While many cities are now used to the Boris Bike model, in which bikes are docked and then rented by the user, the Mobike system will make bikes more readily available. Using a smartphone the bikes can be located with an app and GPS, and then unlocked using the same device.

Mobike will implement the initial introduction of 1,000 bikes with the agreement from Manchester and Salford city councils; the move is expected to make rapid progress soon after, spreading to other UK cities.

Chinese giant wheels out ‘Uber for bikes’ in Manchester

You would not be wrong for thinking that this ‘Uber for bikes’ scheme sounds slightly impractical in a major cities, as reports from cities where the scheme is in place have unsurprisingly involved a great deal of cases of abandoned bikes.

READ MORE: Santander launches app for Boris bike booking

In addition to this, the ‘Uber for bikes’ company Mobike does face stiff competition. The main competitor is perhaps Ofo, another bike sharing company looking beyond the boundaries of China. Ofo has in fact already set foot in the UK, with a small number of bikes used to Cambridge as part of a pilot programme.

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Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “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.”

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