18 July 2017

Mobike Manchester

Image courtesy of Mobike https://mobike.com/global/

Did you ever hear your mum say: “this is why we can’t have anything nice!”?

It’s the go-to phrase when a vase is broken, a little one gets overzealous with crayons or there’s a spillage. Unfortunately, that phrase seems to apply to Manchester at the moment.

Whilst the region is making real strides, in many ways it does lag behind the capital.  One such way is public transport. We have an extraordinary infrastructure and growing tram network, and seeing the introduction of the Mobike recently, we have environmentally friendly options too.

Unfortunately the Mobike trial isn’t going too well.

The bikes are parked around the city. Users unlock them with a smartphone and use the bikes for just 50p per half hour. Interestingly, users can leave the bikes anywhere within Manchester or Salford when they’re finished with it. No need to find a docking station.

Just two weeks since 1,000 orange bikes were introduced to Manchester, there are bikes dumped in the canal, reports of people stashing them in their sheds or houses and handfuls of them being found by police with their locks smashed off.

Helen Pidd yesterday wrote about her dismay for the new scheme in the Guardian, reporting 50 bikes trashed. She said: “On Thursday, none of the eight bikes showing on the app as being near my house were actually there. I was so incensed when I reached the location of the ninth and could see it locked away in a backyard that I lost control of my senses and knocked on the door. A young man opened it and I asked nicely if I could rent the bike. He looked surprised and said, no, it was his, and anyway, he needed it later. I explained that was not how the system worked, that the bikes were public, and that if everyone was as selfish as him the whole thing would collapse. He rolled his eyes and told me I would be trespassing if I dared try to fetch it.”

It is a privilege for a company like Mobike to branch out from places like Singapore to Manchester. It’s one that we seem to have spoiled already. If we are to become the progressive, fast-growing city that we champion so often, we first need to tackle these issues.

Who would want to bring new smart city technology to a city that vandalises anything it gets?

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