Dockless isn't hopeless
There’s still appetite for bike sharing in Manchester despite Mobike’s recent withdrawal from the city, according to a new study from the University of Salford together with British Cycling. The Asian company, which only launched Manchester services a year ago, reported that 10% of its 2,000 dockless bikes were smashed or stolen every month during the summer.
"The survey reveals that there is a place for bike share in Greater Manchester, but it has to be done well,” says researcher Dr Graeme Sherriff. “A lot of people wanted to cycle more, and bike share is an attractive way to start - you don't have to invest in a cycle or find somewhere to store one - but the quality of the bikes and the operational area is all important.|
The research revealed concerns about the condition of sharing bikes, comfort when riding and the experience of unlocking them, with the quality of the bikes contributing to feelings of vulnerability on the road. Most users found the Mobikes to be heavy and slow, while another issue was discomfort for taller people due to the limited saddle height.
“People found that the single gear meant it was difficult to pick up much speed, and this had often made people feel uncomfortable on the roads as they were not able to keep up with the flow of traffic,” states the study.
Respondents also reported Mobikes showing on the proprietary app and then not being in the place marked, or being there but not functional.
“Anyone planning a bike share scheme needs to think carefully about issues such as how the design of bikes can make it a good option for everyone, how it fits in with other public transport services, how they can be provided at strategic points like major employers, and how there can be a mix of docked and dockless bikes,” says Dr Sherriff.
Image: University of Salford