"oBike is a global Internet company focusing on innovation," states the Twitter account for oBike, and only secondly does it add that it's offering "station-less bike sharing technology." The Singapore-based company has placed 400 hire-by-app bikes in Tower Hamlets, London.
As the name suggests dockless bike-share schemes do not require expensive, space-hungry docking stations – the GPS-equipped bikes are booked by smartphone app and can be left (almost) anywhere thanks to an on-board lock. The sector is dominated by Asian tech companies looking to gain traction on smartphones, especially the smartphones owned by millennials.
Hiring an oBike costs 50p per half hour (users also pay a one-time refundable deposit of £49).
According to industry veteran Shane Connaughton, dockless bike sharing will shake up the cycle industry, transform urban transport and, ultimately, reshape cities. “This is the most disruptive thing that’s happened to our industry for a long time,” he told BikeBiz at the Velo-city conference staged in the Netherlands a month ago. “The cash that is being pumped into the sector is unprecedented in the bike world.”
Connaughton is the CEO of Full Speed Bikes of Dublin, and he and his team are aiming to grab a slice of the dockless bike-share industry. This new sector is taking China by storm and is being showered with cash from venture capitalists.
Want to read more? BikeBiz has this long-form article on dockless bike-share systems and how they could transform cities and the global bicycle industry.