Mobiking in Manchester my first experience of bike sharing

Mobike in Manchester

Mobike came to Manchester on Thursday and I decided to try it out after seeing them next to the MediaCityUK stop.

My scooter was having a service and I was at various MIF 2017 events, so I gave it a try on Saturday afternoon between events (long MIF2017 blog coming soon).

Generally it pretty painless, install the Mobike app (make sure you get the right one!), pay a one time deposit of £29 (which is refundable at anytime) then point your phone at a bike’s QR code; moments later it will unlock and you can ride it. It costs 50p for 30mins of ride time.

It’s not bad but the app feels badly skinned with english, there’s still chinese language bits and paying the deposit could be a lot simpler. Theres also more evidence of its chinese  legacy with the share options only being wechat, qq, qzone and sina weibo. No sharing with fb, twitter, g+, etc…

The apps refreshes and shows the bikes near you, which is useful. I did have a serious problem with the app’s permissions which only really needs your location and camera for the QR code reading. thankfully Android 6+ can change the permissions and my app works fine with just those 2 turned on.

The bikes themselves are ok if you are going a short distance but for example I rode 1km which also included a few small hills. The hills were killer as the bikes have no gears and are not very comfortable but practical. The little basket is useful for small things but I kept my laptop bag on my back and put my summer coat in the basket. I didn’t fancy waiting at the lights and someone grabbing my laptop bag.

Honestly I didn’t enjoy riding the bike on the road, on the pavement it handled a lot better. There is no suspicion and the wheels pass every bump straight into your arms and legs. So I stuck to riding on the pavement and canal towpath’s.

When you are finished, you simply lock the bike with the built-in lock and walk away. Simple…

However I didn’t know this at the start but there is a whole system/scheme/behaviour mobikes users have to sign up to.

What are Mobike Credits?

Mobike’s mission is to provide an economical, environmental friendly mode of transportation using innovation and technology. To achieve our mission, we encourage proper usage and do not tolerate misuse and inappropriate behavior. Below are the Credit Points Guidelines:

Each new user will be entitled 100 Credit Points and is able to hold a maximum of 10,000 points and a minimum of 0 points. Higher credit points indicate proper usage and good conduct whereas low credit points indicate misuse and inappropriate usage.

Having low credit points will affect the fare for your trips. When your Credit Points are 80 or lower, the fares for usage will be $100 per 30 mins. (You will be awarded 100 Mobike credits upon registration. For more information on Mobike Credit Point Deduction, refer to “My Mobike Credits”)

All credit point deduction can be found under “My Account” -> “My Mobike Credits” -> ”Deductions”. If there was an error in your credit points deduction, please report the error at the lower right corner of the App.

Gain Credit
Each ride +1
Report broken bike +1
Report incorrect parking +1
Using another user’s invitation code when registering +1
Successfully invite a friend to use Mobike +1
Lose Credit
Park in a compound -20
Abandoning the bike when intercepted by police -50
Forget to lock, but eventually retrieve the bike Reduce to 0
Use a private lock Reduce to 0
Forget to lock and bike is lost Reduce to 0
Illegally transporting the bike Reduce to 0

The interesting part is you can earn credits by reporting other uses who have broken a rules, like parking the bike where it blocks the public walk way.

Help others find where you last park

On the trip summary page, you can upload a picture of where you parked the bike and a comment, to make it easier for the next user to find the bike. If you indeed help the next user to find it, they’ll have the chance to validate your information and you’ll get an extra 2 Mobike Credits!

Report bad parking practices
If you see any illegal or poorly parked Mobike, please send us feedback and you will be rewarded with Mobike Credits. To report, you can click the “!” icon in the bottom right corner, click on the “wrong park” button and send your feedback! Please do remember to include the bike number in your feedback.

Of course, I can just imagine how this is going to turn slightly nasty and influence the way people use the service. It’s also not clear how far you can take the bike, not that you would want to ride it to the Airport, and carrying it on the tram would break the rules and leave you with no credits.

I didn’t upload my picture to share with the next person, so I guess some sad person could realistically report it as badly parked? (Although its been moved since!) Be good to retrospectively add a photo too.

The weird thing is, since the mobike is still outside the flats and I keep seeing people messing with it, I keep thinking maybe I should ride it back to somewhere else? Almost feels like my bike and I’m still responsible for it as such… Theres another one by New Islington tram stop, and I did consider parking my bike next to that one. Of course if I did, that would start the money timer again!

Between riding my scooter, catching ubers, walking, taking the tram and skateboarding; it’s closer to skateboarding,. The big advantage is not having to carry it around afterwards, especially if it suddenly rains (its Manchester, so this always happens)! It’s a in-between-er for trams and buses. You could walk, but walking will be slower. Uber will be costly and traffic can be a killer in Manchester. Also as its still new, the chances are, you can easily pick up the same bike when you want to head back.

Generally I think its good for short journeys. Its convent but I would hate to ride those bikes in the rain or any distance over 1km. I do wonder when they will get hacked and how Mobike will deal with that, can imagine some man in the middle attacks already.

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.