So, here’s the idea. You download either the Android or the iPhone app. You create an account and then, using the app, you find a pushbike in your local area. You scan the code on the bike and off you go.
When you’re done, and you’ve reached your destination, you just park it up at a suitable place and then close a lock on the bike to end your ride. That place isn’t fixed. Provided it’s a safe public place, you’re good. Here’s an example of a good spot according to their FAQ..
Yes, there’s a payment – you need to top-up a wallet. To use Mobike – that’s the name of this bike-sharing service by the way – you’ll need to make a one-time refundable deposit of £49. After that, it’s 50p for every 30 minutes of riding, so your cycle to work or out to the supermarket at lunch could cost you very little.
The charge for the bike starts once you unlock it, then it’ll reset when the bike is locked. You can reserve or cancel for free.
Sounds great doesn’t it? However, as reported by The Guardian, things aren’t going so well. Mobike deployed a thousand of their bikes in Manchester. It’s their first UK launch city, but now some of the locals have decided to either steal them, vandalise them or worse.
In truth, it shouldn’t be easy to do. The bikes are strengthened and rugged. GPS trackers keep an eye on each one so that you know where the nearest cycle is, but sadly thieves have found ways to disable these and, for those that haven’t, they’re disabling the locks and either trashing the bikes or simply keeping them.
Twitter user Fatah Ruark found one of the bikes in Ancoats, and it looked pretty broken – a melted seat and damaged tyres..
He also found a couple of bikes stored in the back garden of a house..
Meanwhile Alex Herron seems to have found another one in the canal..
Let’s hope that the local police and the guys at Mobike can keep on top of this, because I really do like this idea. It’s great to be able to place the bike in any safe public place, rather than hunting down a preset location, and it would be a shame if a few nutters spoiled it for everyone.
If you want to use and support them, head to Mobike.com.