A dockless rival to Santander Cycles has launched in London. Promoting its bikes as cheaper, lighter and more convenient than Boris Bikes, Singapore firm oBike has initially deployed 400 bikes in Tower Hamlets with the promise of many more to come.
"It's super multicultural, there's a lot of cycle highways, so the commute from home to work or meeting to meeting is easy, but we felt there was a lack of bicycles available in the area," oBike’s Augustin Mallon told Wired.
As with other dockless schemes like Ofo in Cambridge and MoBike in Manchester, bikes are located, unlocked and hired via an app with each 30-minute ride costing 50p (once you’ve paid a refundable deposit of £49).
While there are 11,500 Boris Bikes dotted about the capital, each must be returned to a docking stations at the end of a ride and this is the main area where oBike feels it has an advantage as its bikes can be left at the user’s destination.
They’re ambitious too.
"Santander has 11,000 bikes on the streets and we're hoping to add to that by at least 50 per cent," said Mallon. He says that during July the firm will be putting "hundreds of bikes every day" onto the streets of the capital.
— oBike UK (@ObikeUk) July 12, 2017
While hugely popular in China in particular, it remains to be seen how British cities will take to dockless hire bikes.
Earlier today we reported on incidents of vandalism in Manchester, where several MoBikes have had locks removed or ended up in canals. However, the firm says there have only been a tiny number of issues set against broader success in which it has seen nine to 10 rides per bike per day.