STORY HIGHLIGHTS


China bike-sharing changes Manchester city life

CNC
Added On August 9, 2017

Over a month has passed since Chinese company Mobike launched its bike-sharing service in Manchester.
 
What changes happen to the look of the Northern English city, as well as people's lives due to the world's first cashless and station-free bike-sharing scheme?
 
LIFESTYLES has more.
 
The technology is new, but the image is older -- bicycles. 
 
Manchester became the first city outside Asia to launch Mobike, and the 100th in the world. Its distinctive orange bikes can now be spotted on the streets.
 
Manchester had no bike-sharing before Mobike rolled in.
 
The British are keen on cycling for environmental and health reasons, but traditional bike-sharing with their permenant docks were deemed too expensive.
 
Local media have reported the five pros of Mobike: they are cheap, you can leave them anywhere, they are fun to ride, the system rewards good behaviour, and they are not the massive drain on public funds.
 
SOUNDBITE(ENGLISH): PETER BARKER, CNC correspondent
"So yes, it's like a bicycle of course. But in a city, this would be pretty good I think. I am going to give a bit more of run around. But I think in a city you do not really want to go too fast when you want to get to a place. It's going to be a lot traffic as well. These wheels are particularly big, but I think it really matters. Brakes are quite good. I am going to take a go down to the far end here. And hopefully, I will come back. Well, I can report that riding a bike in a city is much like riding a bike in a city. But I can see how this would be very very useful for traveling around the city. You get to have to bring a bike you own it. You can just pick one up. Pretty cheap as well. I think I will be using this if I was one of those students who live down there.  Perhaps 90,000 students 2 miles down there. I would use this quite often. I think if I could find one for work I would use one too. It's quite fun. The only drawback is the Manchester's weather. A little bit wet. But the brakes are pretty good. So, I do not think I am going to cause any accident. I will take this back now."
 
Experts say that Manchester had invested millions of pounds in the infrastructure, but there is still a gap in new mobility. 
 
As an innovative city where the industrial revolution was born, Manchester has been hoping to make a breakthrough in the flow of traffic, and Mobike meets the demand. 
 
SOUNDBITE(ENGLISH): RAFAEL CUESTA, Head, Innovation of Transport for Greater Manchester
"For many years, we have been looking at possible solutions around. Bike-sharing. Object for us, TFGM is to make travel easier. So, we have invested a significant amount of capital in our train network, in our railway stations. But on new mobility, we had a gap. And we want cycle share. The traditional models that existed were very capitally intensive and very expensive for cities to operate. And we could not afford it. We had a look we made some facility studies. So, for us to have Mobike coming to us saying we have this innovative commercial model or this innovative model of operation that doesn't require a significant capital from us or no capital at all then it was just fantastic in the count to between someone that had a solution and a city that need that solution."
 
The Chinese technology not only offers a chance to reshape city life, but also has promoted the economic exchanges between Manchester and China.
 
Daniel, a business development director, has helped to facilitate the introduction of Mobike into Manchester. 
 
He says that Manchester and China have maintained friendly ties. He believes that China is a significant market, and he hopes that there will be further cooperation soon.
 
SOUNDBITE(ENGLISH): DANIEL STORER, Business Development Director
"China is a priority for Manchester. We were lucky enough back in 2015 to have a presidential visit to Manchester. Before then and subsequently we have received a great deal of attention from China which's been very exciting. So, we now have two direct air routes. Hainan Airways operate a daily routine to Beijing and Cathay restarted their Hong Kong routes, and again they both had a great deal of success. From investments perspective, we had a number of Chinese companies so the example would be Beijing construction engineering group who invested in airport city which is a major regeneration project alongside the airport here in Manchester. They have set their European headquarter here and also made a number of follow-up investments in the city. So, we are definitely open for business with China, and we have got a great interest from a number of Chinese companies."
 
So, two months on, how do local residents feel about the new bikes?
 
SOUNDBITE(ENGLISH): WILL ROGERS, Manchester citizen
"I just think it's a really nice idea. I heard about it and just want to have a go. I was in the city center and I just need to get across the other side. It's great. Really good."
 
SOUNDBITE(ENGLISH): ANNE ROBINSON, Manchester citizen
"Yes, it's actually really needed in Manchester. Just to get around the city more easily and rather than wait for the little metro buses to get from one side of town to the other or differently the tram. You can just hop on the bikes."
 
After Manchester: London. Mobike has announced that it will launch 750 bikes in the western borough of Ealing this September.
 
With its recent launch in Florence and Milan, it looks like the Chinese bike-sharing scheme is set to transform more European cities.