A Truly Innovative Way to Cycle Taken from Manchester


Written by Brooke Stirling

Social media executive

If you love to cycle but don’t love the ongoing maintenance or space it takes up in the home, Dockless Bike Share might be perfect for you. But this innovative system has recently been cancelled in Manchester by leading provider Mobike, due to the high number of incidents involving vandalism and theft.

For those unfamiliar with dockless bike share, it is essentially a system which allows you to find and unlock these bikes using a smartphone app. Users are able to park the bicycle within a defined district at a bike rack or along the sidewalk, avoiding the hassle of full docking stations and crowds.

Due to the designated (usually central) areas for stationing the bikes, dockless bike share isn’t usually suitable for commuting to work but a great option for those looking for sporadic trips or short rides to meet friends or head to a meeting.

Mobike, a highly successful dockless bike share company operating in over 200 cities, chose Manchester as their first city outside of China and have been in operation since June 2017.

Unfortunately, the system has not worked as well as expected in the new location, with the bikes being targeted by thieves and vandals.

Although this behaviour is nothing new (sadly), the rates of which this has been occurring in Manchester is significantly higher than any other location, with 10% of bicycles being damaged or stolen in July alone*.

Incidents have varied from bikes being thrown into canals, being set on fire, spray-painted and even having their locks broken with people taking them home for their own exclusive use.

After talks with representatives from Manchester council, Greater Manchester Police and TfGM around potential solutions, General Manager of Mobike UK Jan Van der Ven announced they would be ceasing operation.

“We have a duty to ensure our revenues cover our costs since, unlike some operators, we do not use taxpayer money to help balance our books. Unfortunately the circumstances in Manchester have not made this possible.”

The news is a real blow to the community, with a large number of members using the service.

Mobike reported Mancunians have taken 250,000 trips over 180,000 miles since the service launched mid-2017**.

Cycling and Walking Commission of Manchester Chris Boardman said the news was disappointing but there are positives that have come from the situation.

“I want to assure Greater Manchester residents that the learning is already being put to good use and that they can expect some very positive news in the not too distant future.”

After Mobike complete a full review of its time in Manchester, they intend on submitting a proposal to council with hopes of creating a sustainable bike sharing option in partnership with the local authorities.

* ManchesterEvening News

** The Guardian