Today in most of the major cities around the world, you can find bikes in abundance for only a few coins or a simple tap of your contactless card. In London, we have all heard of and used “Boris Bikes” in and around the city but we now need to take note of the worlds leading dockless bicycle hire providers, such as, Mobike and Ofo as they have committed to expanding their bike fleets to 250 cities across a vast number of site cities.
One of these cities is my current home and everyone’s favourite UK city, London. Ofo started releasing their dockless bikes south of the river with the Southwark Council taking a number of them totalling up to 1,150 of these bikes in operation around the city. With such quick expansion in the city so far, companies such as Ofo are planning to have over 100,000 bikes in the capital at one time.
Whether you are into them or not, dockless bikes, I believe, are here to stay and will become a more common site in the city you live in. The big questions on the minds of all city livers are, will we become a cleaner and more utopian country as the likes of Copenhagen or will these dockless bikes be a hindrance to all both council workers and those who walk the streets to and from their 9 to 5.
Why do we need them?
I have been living in London for over 4 years and I have learnt from my time here that walking or cycling to and from your desired destinations can normally be quicker than attempting to duck and dive through tube stations and navigate tube maps. Santander Bikes (or Boris Bikes as they are commonly known) and the new wave of dockless bikes are proving to be a quick and affordable way of getting around the capital. In addition to this, by cycling to our destinations we are reducing carbon emissions, which is something we should all be trying to combat.
How are they any different to the Boris Bikes I hear you ask? Well, its all in the name, its dockless. Unlike the Boris B’s, dockless bikes offer its rider and option to park the bike, well, anywhere. Anywhere being somewhere that is legal and doesn’t obstruct the general public (e.g. on the side of a road or in the middle of a public path etc.) We have all be subject to lugging a unnecessarily Santander Bike while looking for a docking station to be rid of it.
How do they work?
There’s no real science when it comes to using one of these bikes and each company follow the same process really. Like all companies working in 2018 they have an app and you must download this to be able to unlock any of the dockless bikes. On most apps you are able to use the integrated mapping system to find your nearest ride, as all bikes are fitted with sensitive GPRS systems to be able to locate them easily. A number of dockless bike companies are now using QR codes, which enable users to lock and unlock a bike with ease whilst using the specific dockless bike app.
A with all competitors, prices vary when it comes to hiring one of these bikes. Some offer pay as you go prices of 50p per half an hour with others offering a standard £5 for all day rental.
Should we use them now we know more?
Dockless bikes have been rolled out worldwide and have not been short of problems. Many bikes have been found vandalised, stolen and even thrown into rivers. If the world could be rid of the senseless and unintelligent people who commit such crimes then I believe this mode of transport would be more successful. Various fleets have been removed from cities due to the mindlessness of individuals who are messing with bikes parked around the worlds most popular cities. In theory, it is a great idea and one that can help with the health and fitness of all residents and will also cut on fuel emissions in the city but they are yet to show their full potential.
Time will tell if dockless bikes will be the future of city travel and examples of cities struggling with bike littering (inconsiderate parking and mass numbers sent to the tip) and obstructing public areas are not helping their case in the eyes councils and pedestrians who seem to be fed up with them being around already.
One Saturday in London
I was pottering around London this weekend and a found a few of these dockless bikes parked up, what are your thoughts?