Bike share scheme coming to Manchester
Manchester has enjoyed a remarkable rise in recent years and is on the verge of becoming a truly international city. As cities grow, they inevitably change. Infrastructure which served the city well in the past may not be a good fit for the future.
A good example of this is transport.
A smaller city can fare quite well with traffic running through the city and a limited bus service to ferry people from the outer reaches into the centre. There simply aren’t enough people to require anything more.
A typical next step for a growing city is to pedestrianise large swathes of the city centre, especially around shopping areas, and maybe introduce some sort of light rail system to further reduce reliance on cars. Manchester is an excellent example of this, having introduced and continually expanded its Metrolink tram system which goes out to many nearby boroughs and the extremely important Manchester Airport.
But what is the next step?
For Manchester it appears to be the arrival of a massive bike sharing scheme from Mobike, the world’s largest bike sharing company. The first thousand bikes are set to be rolled out across Manchester and the neighbouring city of Salford at the end of June and will then be extended out to other boroughs of the city.
Mobike has already had massive success with its bike sharing scheme in China, where it began in Shanghai and soon spread its service across the country. There are now more than 100 million Mobike bicycles across China available for people to use.
Hu Weiwei, the founder of Mobike, envisions Manchester being the Shanghai of Europe and is aiming to introduce the service across the continent in the coming years if the Manchester trial proves to be a success.
It is tough to say if this will be the case. More bikes in a city is generally a good idea on paper. People’s health will improve and the air will be less polluted – but there are some practical issues as well.
The £49 reservation fee will price a lot of people out from the beginning. There are also issues with the cycle infrastructure in Manchester as it is currently insufficient to handle large-scale cycling. However, this might be a ‘chicken and egg’ situation where the popularity of this new bike share scheme causes more money to be pumped into safe cycle lanes in the future.
However well it works, the willingness of Manchester to trial new schemes like this is a good sign for the city. It is a forward thinking place and its partnership with China has proven fruitful once again.