The Chinese Mobike scheme has just hit my city of Newcastle upon Tyne, so on Monday I grabbed my camcorder and gave it a go – with hilariously sweaty results!

I've been mulling on the business model ever since. At 50p per half hour hire, I can't see the scheme being financially viable without other forms of income, yet there is no obvious advertising as there is on Boris bikes in London (and those still require a hefty subsidy from the taxpayer).

From a big 'S' Sustainability point of view, I'm still not sure of the benefits given the limitations of the bikes – as you will see in the video, you're not going to take them too far, so they're unlikely to reduce private car journeys. They may cut taxi journeys and reduce pressure on public transport. They may of course form a gateway to proper cycle commuting, but I'm always wary of tangential benefits – I like to see a clear path between investment and outcome.

So, the future of transport or a vanity project? Only time will tell, but I'm afraid I'm sceptical about their chances – more than happy to be proved wrong.

 

 

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