Crime-hit bike sharing scheme discontinues city

Image copyright Mobike Image caption The cycle hire strategy launched in June 2017 with 1,000 motorcycles made available

Bike sharing firm Mobike is to pull out of Manchester after losing 10% of its cycles each month to theft and vandalism.

The Chinese firm said too many had been stolen, dumped in canals and bins, had locks hacked off or been set on fire.

Manchester has become the only city among 200 worldwide to lose the service because of persistent crime.

Mobike said it had already “processed refunds” and would start removing its fleet imminently from the city streets.

Mobike General Manager Jan Van der Ven said the company was “very grateful” to the city, which was the first in Europe to adopt the scheme last July.

‘Throwing rocks’

However, he said: “As a private company, we have a duty to ensure our revenues cover our expenses since, unlike some operators, we do not use taxpayer money to assistance balance our books.

“Unfortunately the circumstances in Manchester have not made this possible.”

He added: “We have all learnt valuable lessons that will help cities continue to induce urban life more sustainable, more active and more healthy through cycling.”

Greater Manchester cycling commissioner and former Tour de France rider Chris Boardman said: “This is frustrating news and any results that we’ve been preparing for.

“Anti-social behaviour is not a problem unique to Manchester, it has been encountered in other UK cities and other motorcycle operators have found ways to deal with it.”

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Vandalism has proven a problem worldwide, as this photograph from Berlin depicts

The scheme operates along similar lines to London’s “Boris bikes”, with users paying a deposit to join the strategy and then a rate according to how long they use them.

Unlike other cycle hire schemes, there are no fixed docking stations with users encouraged to “park responsibly” within the scheme’s operating zone.

Mobike had insisted its motorcycles were theft and vandal-proof but Greater Manchester Police received 17 reports in the first 10 days of the scheme.

A gang in Ancoats, east Manchester, was filmed hurling stones at a bike, trying to destroy it, while thieves would violate locks and disable electronic tracking systems.

In April the firm announced a price hike from 50 p to 69 p per half-hour in a bid to counter the damage.

Mobike said it would conduct “a full review of its time in Manchester”.

The company said it would continue to operate in London, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Oxford and Cambridge.

It had cautioned it could also withdraw from Newcastle but said the “threat to leave has gone” after a review.

“We’re keen to sit down with the police and city council and try to work up a new plan to run things more effectively, ” a spokesman said.

“We know the parts of the river where the motorcycles get hurled into; we have our truck driving down by the river twice a day.”


By Tom Mullen, BBC News

Mobike’s distinctive orange-rimmed cycles had become a familiar sight in Manchester, and the strategy was well-used.

I clocked up more than 79 miles( 128 km) on the motorcycles, which I received handy for whizzing to the gym or stores, or even all the way to work.

But the motorcycles were obviously an easy target for vandals. The sight of stray bikes dumped by canals, violate or even set on fire was becoming more and more common.

To combat this, Mobike began to shrink its operating area and ramp up fines for people who abused the service. But today’s decision shows the company’s loss had simply become unsustainable.

With Mobike operating successfully in 200 cities around world, people are wondering why it couldn’t work here. It’s certainly not a great advert for Manchester.

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Tube train travels with doorways wide open What’s incorrect with doing make-up on a develop ? Do you know your heart age? Image caption Mobike sent the proclamation to its clients

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