Mobike, the Chinese bike-sharing mogul, has decided to test its luck in the United Kingdom, but its premiere has not exactly been a very smooth ride.
In June, Mobike deployed 1000 of its dock-less bikes to the UK, in the cities of Oxford and Manchester. Bike-sharing isn’t all that new to Europe, but Mobike’s platform certainly is. This particular squadron of bicycles was intended to act as a trial run, as Mobike, along with other Chinese bike-sharing companies, hope to offer their dock-less bikes in previously dock-bound cities around the world.
But the results of this particular experiment have taken a turn for the worse. Vandals and opportunistic riders are taking advantage of Mobike’s business model and are breaking the vehicles’ locks, throwing them into rivers, and hiding them in back yards. Within the first ten days of the bikes being introduced, local Manchester authorities received 20 reports of bikes being either stolen or vandalized.
— Moss Side & Hulme (@GMPMossAndHulme) July 9, 2017
Despite hopes that such incidents would decrease once the novelty of the new bikes wore off, bike-bandits have yet to be discouraged. As of last week, Manchester officials had received 17 reports of destruction of property since the beginning of July. The company likes to claim that their bikes, which have airless tires and no chains, are “vandal-proof,” but some UK citizens appear to have taken the advertising slogan as a challenge, leading the Guardian to conclude that “people don’t know how to share.”
See below a video of one of the bicycles being attacked:
— Yicai Global 第一财经 (@yicaichina) July 13, 2017
Right now, it seems that residents of Manchester are just as likely to find the signature silver and orange two-wheelers at the bottom of the cities’ canals, or locked away in someone’s backyard, as they are on the sidewalk. No matter, local residents still seem pretty excited about what Mobike has to offer. Some cyclists even appear to rather enjoy acting as community watchdogs.
Mobike currently uses a system where customers gain or lose points based on good or bad behavior while using the bikes. Lose too many points, and you lose access to the bikes. In the UK, this part of the Mobike model has been a roaring success. With an air of gleeful satisfaction, some cyclists are taking it upon themselves to report any abusers of the system.
— Helen Pidd (@helenpidd) July 5, 2017
Representatives of Mobike have tried to put a positive spin on the wobbly debut, citing high usage, inaccurate reports of vandalism, and support and satisfaction from new customers as promising evidence for future business in the UK. In China, dock-less bicycles have recently received a bad rep for clogging sidewalks, but Mobike is certain that cooperation between their employees and local officials will lead to the further expansion of their empire, iNews reports.
Mobike certainly isn’t the only Chinese company looking to introduce the concept of dock-less bikes to cities around the globe. Companies such as Ofo, Bluegogo, and Baicycle are expanding to locations such as San Francisco, Singapore and some Japanese universities. According to Ofo co-founder, Zhang Siding, each company is striving to expand their empires as rapidly as possible, while there is still limited competition.
So if you were searching for some respite from bike-infested sidewalks, you’re going to have to act fast. Its only a matter of time until two-wheeled Minions and their ilk take over cities around the world.
By Emma Abrams
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