In June 2017, Mobike launched in Manchester and Salford, putting 1000 of their bikes on the streets. Manchester and Salford were the company’s first host cities outside of Asia and officially kicked off Mobike’s European expansion. Mobike is a smart, dock-less bikeshare platform that aims to solve the short distance connectivity problem in cities. Its mission is to bring more bikes to more cities, using its innovative technology to make cycling the most convenient and environmentally-friendly transport choice for urban residents.
Weiwei Hu, founder of Mobike, said: “We’re very excited to make Manchester and Salford Mobike’s first European partners. They have long been a European leader in culture, innovation and technology and were carefully selected as promising and highly-suited Mobike cities. The councils and TfGM are ideal partners to help the people of Manchester and Salford make the most of our high-tech offering.”
The China Forum first met with Mobike in early April after they had attended SXSW and had got in contact with a number of people across the city. They then met TfGM and Manchester City Council to propose coming to Manchester and discussed launching a pilot scheme here over the summer. Throughout the proposal review period, the China Forum worked closely with key stakeholders in the city to ensure that this opportunity was made the most of. Manchester China Forum, along with MIDAS, have also been heavily involved in putting them in contact with major players in the city that Mobike were keen to collaborate with, e.g. Peel (Media City) and UoM in terms of places to park bikes and CityCo who helped to organise their launch events. This work is still ongoing, with other firms still keen to engage with Mobike as they grow.
Mobikes are equipped with a series of proprietary high-tech features that benefit both users and partner cities alike. Every Mobike is equipped with unique smart-lock technology and built-in GPS connected via the Mobike IoT network. Mobike’s technology locates and monitors the health of each bike, as well as location-based demands for bikes, to manage supply and help solve the “last-mile” challenge. This is something that they are working with Manchester’s CityVerve project on and will hopefully help to develop cycling and environmental solution for Manchester.
More recently Mobike have worked with the city councils and TfGM on plans to grow bike numbers across Manchester and Salford, which will be happening in the coming weeks. This should help to meet the increasing demand and help solve the problem some people are having of finding a bike. Having spoken to Mobike, the usage in Manchester and Salford has been much higher than expected, with the average trips per bike per day above that of many of its other host cities. Mobike are also looking to start discussions to grow into a number of other Greater Manchester Boroughs in the near future
We also welcomed Mobike’s founder Hu Weiwei to Manchester at the end of September for the day as part of a visit to Europe. This was a brilliant opportunity for her to see, and experience, Mobikes in action in Manchester. As part of the trip she saw a Mobike linked up to VR headset, which is used for CityVerve as well as meeting key people from both the City council and the China Forum. She enjoyed her trip to Manchester and her presence shows her, and Mobike’s commitment to the city.