On yer Mobike! Cycle scheme to leave city
MOBIKE is pulling out of Manchester - making us the first city to lose the bike-sharing firm as a result of van- dalism and theft.
Rumours started to swirl yesterday morning after users opened their apps to find their deposits had gone.
It later emerged the cash had been refunded into their bank accounts.
And Mobike has now confirmed it is ‘suspending’ the dockless scheme, with the withdrawal of an estimated 2,000 bikes already in progress, just 13 months after the scheme’s launch.
It comes after bosses made a ‘final plea’ in August for a minority in the city to stop stealing and vandalising their bikes - or face losing the scheme ‘within weeks’.
Last July, Manchester became the first city outside Asia to launch the scheme, which is also now in 200 cities worldwide including London, Newcastle, Oxford and Cambridge.
But within weeks, our sister papert M.E.N. had been flooded with reports of vandalism – with pictures of bikes up lamp posts, flung into the canal, customised with spray paint or badly damaged.
At the time, Mobike bosses insisted they had accounted for losses in their business plan.
And the problem has not abated. In July 2018 alone, 10 per cent of the fleet, or around 200 bikes, were stolen or vandalised.
The high crime rate - the worst in the firm’s history - means Mobike has been struggling to cover its costs. And bosses have now sounded the death knell.
Jan Van der Ven, general manager of Mobike UK said: “We are very grateful to the City of Manchester to have been the first city in Europe to welcome Mobike.
“However, after careful evaluation, we have decided to remove our bikes and refund our users.
“As a private company, we have a duty to ensure our revenues cover our costs since, unlike some operators, we do not use taxpayer money to help balance our books.
“Unfortunately, the circumstances in Manchester have not made this possible.”
He said they would conduct a ‘full review’ of their time here, with a view to submitting a proposal for an ‘affordable model’ to be launched in partnership with local authorities.
He added: “I want to thank the people of Manchester, Transport for Greater Manchester, Greater Manchester Police and the City Council for all their support.
“We have all learnt valuable lessons that will help cities continue to make urban life more sustainable, more active and more healthy through cycling.”
Manchester is not the first city to lose the orange and silver bikes, which allow users to hire cycles using an app downloaded to their phone.
They have also been withdrawn from Washington DC and Dallas - but bosses said this was due to business reasons rather than user behaviour.
Aimed at reducing congestion and pollution and promoting good health at no expense to the Manchester taxpayer, the bikes have been on 250,000 trips covering more than 180,000 miles.
Most people have always used the bikes responsibly and initially the firm said it had leeway in its business plan to allow for loss.
But in the months following the roll-out, a sad picture of vandalism and theft began to emerge.
Last month, Mobike urged residents to ‘use but not abuse’ the bikes - or suffer the consequences of prosecution, fines and even the withdrawal of the bikes all together.
With the support of police, the council and transport bosses, including cycling tsar Chris Boardman, they said they were actively pursuing civil prosecutions against those who steal or damage bikes.
Warning the possibility of an end to Mobike in Manchester was not an ‘idle threat’, a spokesman said they were also facing problems with users taking the bikes home and parking them privately.
An abandoned Mobike spotted on Collyhurst Road in Manchester city centre