On roll in Lon­don

Mo­bike’s shar­ing model gets ap­proval for test us­ing 750 bi­cy­cles

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By BO LE­UNG in Lon­don bole­ung@mail. chi­nadai­lyuk.com

A bike-shar­ing scheme that could ri­val Lon­don’s so-called Boris bikes has been granted per­mis­sion to op­er­ate in the Bri­tish cap­i­tal.

Eal­ing Bor­ough Coun­cil in West Lon­don ap­proved plans dur­ing a coun­cil cab­i­net meet­ing on Tues­day evening for Chi­nese com­pany Mo­bike to launch a pi­lot project in Ac­ton. The scheme will bring 750 bikes to the area and is set to start at the end of July.

Bas­sam Mah­fouz, cab­i­net mem­ber for trans­port, en­vi­ron­ment and leisure, said: “We wel­come Mo­bike’s de­ci­sion to start op­er­at­ing in Eal­ing. Hir­ing a Mo­bike is an easy way to give cy­cling a try over short dis­tances, with­out com­mit­ting to the ex­pense of buy­ing a bike, and we hope that res­i­dents will be en­cour­aged to get out of their cars and cy­cle in­stead.”

Mo­bike has al­ready made its UK de­but in Manch­ester, where a fleet of 1,000 bikes was launched in June.

Un­like for­mer Lon­don mayor Boris John­son’s bike­share pro­gram in the cap­i­tal, users do not need to re­turn a Mo­bike to a spe­cific dock­ing sta­tion. And while the so-called Boris-bikes are par­tially funded by Trans­port for Lon­don, Mo­bike will be avail­able at no cost to the tax­payer as the scheme in Ac­ton will be run as a pri­vate en­ter­prise by the Chi­nese com­pany.

Mah­fouz added: “Mo­bike is ini­tially start­ing on a small scale in Ac­ton be­fore expanding to the rest of the bor­ough. We will be watch­ing the roll­out with close in­ter­est and encouraging lo­cal peo­ple to do their bit for lo­cal air qual­ity and con­ges­tion by giv­ing them a go.”

The spe­cially de­signed bikes are equipped with GPS and pro­pri­etary smart­lock tech­nol­ogy, which al­lows users to find a nearby bike and scan its QR code to un­lock it. The rider can then park the bike in any lo­ca­tion and lock it.

Ac­cord­ing to an Eal­ing coun­cil re­port, cy­clists will have to pay 50 pounds ($64) de­posit to join the scheme and will be charged 50 pence for 30 min­utes.

Bike-shar­ing schemes have taken off in re­cent months and Mo­bike isn’t the only com­pany want­ing a slice of the Lon­don mar­ket.

Sin­ga­porean startup Obike has pre­empted its ri­val by rolling out 400 Obikes in East Lon­don’s Tower Ham­lets bor­ough.

The Mayor of Lon­don’s of­fice said, al­though it can­not con­firm which other Lon­don bor­oughs are in talks with bike-shar­ing com­pa­nies, Trans­port for Lon­don will work with the bor­oughs to en­sure that any such schemes work for Lon­don­ers.

Mo­bike, which han­dles 25 mil­lion rides a day in China, also looks to be preparing to put rid­ers on its bikes in Wash­ing­ton, based on its hir­ing plans in the area.

One of the jobs Mo­bike has posted on pro­fes­sional networking site LinkedIn is for an oper­a­tions man­ager, based in Wash­ing­ton, who would need to get to know “the lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment” and “be the main point of con­tact for the re­gional gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and trans­port au­thor­i­ties”, ac­cord­ing to The Wall Street Jour­nal.

In Wash­ing­ton, Mo­bike would face com­pe­ti­tion from Cap­i­tal Bike-share, a lo­cal com­pany that op­er­ates more than 3,700 bikes at 440 sta­tions across five ju­ris­dic­tions around met­ro­pol­i­tan Wash­ing­ton.

XIN­HUA

Two women ride Mo­bikes in Manch­ester in the United King­dom.

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