Europe vs Asian dockless
European cities aren’t taking to Asian bike-sharing outfits which are looking to flood urban centres with their dockless cycles. The citizens of Munich, for one, are asking municipal officials to clear two-wheelers that litter many pavements, while Paris is planning tighter legislation against sharing outfits.
Singapore’s oBike has deployed thousands of its brightly coloured orange bikes in Munich, leading to complaints of cycles piling up in parks and blocking access to public buildings and train stations. oBike has been criticised for failing to put adequate structures in place to support its fleet, including a lack of maintenance. The backlash has led to the ultimate in urban criticism – Munich art installations made from oBikes.
Backed by VC deep pockets, Hong Kong’s Gobee rolled out in Paris last month, with China’s Mobike and Ofo, plus oBike, also eyeing up the French capital. Paris already boasts a successful city-run bike scheme in the shape of Velib, and welcomes more cycling, but Gobee et al’s method of rolling out thousands of cycles, often without full approval, smacks of Uber-style steamrollering.
Dockless bike schemes aren’t having an easy time of it on their own turf, either. In China, Wukong Bicycles went broke after just six months when most of its bikes were stolen, while Beijing-based outfit 3Vbike went under after its 1,000 bicycles disappeared within a mere four months.
In Singapore, oBike has introduced a geofencing solution to address concerns about its bicycles cluttering public space. The technology will alert users of oBike-designated areas to encourage them to park the vehicles more appropriately. In June this year, the city posted removal notices on some 600 illegally parked dockless bikes, a quarter of which were impounded when operators failed to remove them.
There are also concerns that Asian bike-sharing outfits are operating on financially shaky ground. Ofo has picked up more than $1.2 billion in funding, while Mobike has attracted $900 million. Neither of them is close to turning a profit.