Riders of Mobikes can now ride freely between the City and Southwark.
The Chinese dockless bike sharing company has just deployed 200 bikes across the borough, along with rivals oFo.
The scheme is being worked hand in hand with Southwark Council as part of the overall strategy to grow cycle use in London by 400% by 2026. The bike sharing companies and the council have discussed the plan to deploy the shared bikes for some time to see how the system can fit with transport infrastructure and undoubtedly, to deal with problems like piles of bikes being left at train stations.
Steve Pryor, UK general manager for Mobike said, “As one of the biggest boroughs, and a major connection to the Square Mile, Southwark is going to allow us to significantly expand our users’ journeys, giving them access to South, North and Central London – with more to follow soon! We’re excited to see how this borderless bike sharing opportunity is going to encourage cycling in London.”
Despite strong opposition by those opposed to cycling, there is widespread support for bike sharing and cycling in general across London. Good behaviour on the part of the companies involved should mean that dockless bike sharing plays an important role in the general policy of getting people out of their cars and onto their bikes.
Southwark Councillor Ian Wingfield said: “I am really pleased to be bringing on demand bike hire to the whole of Southwark. Mobike and oFo are experts in their field and they are committed to working with us to promote responsible and safe cycling, including the parking of their bikes.
Wingfield continued, “Many residents have been very clear that this is something that they would welcome and we hope the bikes will help encourage people to give cycling a try and get out and explore the whole of Southwark.”
Pulls and pushes
While the Chinese dockless bike companies will undoubtedly reap the rewards from the scheme, there are other factors driving their uptake. There have been a number of well documented bike muggings where people have their machines stolen from them, and then there is the issue of bike theft even when it has been apparently well locked. Using a public resource saves you the hassle of riding an attractive bike or having to keep it protected when not in use.
Another advantage of a public resource like this is that people who might not think to buy a bike in London may well end up using them instead of other modes of transport. With bikes placed in areas of need, so people are more likely to pay a couple of pounds to use the machines instead of perhaps taking a taxi or driving into this extremely congested area of London.
So far, with well-regulated dockless bike sharing schemes running with minimal annoyance to other road users, they have been well received. Let’s just see how things go when the numbers increase to thousands or even tens of thousands of machines around London!