Mobike joins the company Ofo in its provision of bike-shares in CambridgeLouis Ashworth

Over a year after Ofo’s bright yellow bikes arrived in Cambridge, a second dockless bike-share company, Mobike, has launched a trial in the city, prompting Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner to call for greater regulation of dockless bike-share services.

Mobike’s trial began on Thursday 21st June with 25 bikes, and it will expand to 100 over the course of the month. Ofo, which was launched in Cambridge in April 2017, has already brought 550 bikes to the city, and has announced further plans to expand their operations.

Mobike’s business model is similar to other dockless bike-share companies, with users downloading an app, using the app to find and unlock a bike, and leaving the bike wherever they want when they finish using it.

The model has come under criticism for leaving bikes vulnerable to vandalism. Ofo bikes in Cambridge have been thrown off a bridge, hung from the Princess Diana memorial, smashed with a large rock, and impounded at police stations.

Recognising these difficulties, Zeichner said, “it is vital that local authorities are given the powers that they need to be able to regulate these schemes.”

“Encouraging cycling is, of course, great, but some councils have been put in positions wherethey have to clean up the mess made by some less scrupulous operators.”

The Cambridge city council has recently adopted a code of conduct for dockless bike-share operators, which Mobike has agreed to.


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Cllr Kevin Blencowe, Executive Councillor for Planning Policy and Transport, has said, “we will monitor Mobike closely as a new operator, as we did with Ofo, to ensure that their operation is properly managed and does not cause problems for local residents, businesses or others”.

The arrival of Mobike in Cambridge, its fifth city in the UK, also signals the opening of a new front in a bitter global competition between the company and Ofo. Founded in China in 2015 and 2014 respectively, both companies have been competing to expand their overseas locations.

Ofo’s arrival last year made Cambridge the first city outside Asia to host a dockless bike-share scheme at a time when the company operated in 80 cities in three countries. Now, it operates in over 250 cities in 21 countries.

Mobike has similarly expanded rapidly, launching in a new city every 35 hours between June and November 2017 and now operating in over 200 cities in 18 countries.

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