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Mobike and Ofo on the Move – China at the centre of a growing global sharing economy

Beijing based rental bike company, Mobike, launched a new wave of bikes for the first time outside of Asia last week. 

Manchester and Salford saw the launch of Mobike in the UK, with 1000 bikes set out around the cities on the 6th of July. 

Until now, the Chinese company has been based in China and Singapore only. 

The scheme will undergo a six month trial, after which point decisions about whether to continue with a second wave will be made. 

Mobike may be the largest such scheme of its kind in the UK, but it is not the first, after competitor Ofo launched 50 bikes in Cambridge. 

Initial reactions to the rental scheme have been very positive, with people praising the eco-consciousness of shared bikes, the convenience of access and the low cost of rental. 

While China may only prove to be a cautionary tale for countries that follow, it is important to remind ourselves of the ugliness that occurs when competitive entrepreneurship meets such a great idea head on. 

Hangzhou in Zheijiang Province, is home to some of the largest bicycle graveyards in the world, sites at which police confiscated bikes have been placed. 

What began in the city as a sustained source of remedy for the city’s air pollution problem, soon turned on its head as economic competition stormed the market.

According to a survey by Zheijiang University of Technology (Hangzhou is the largest city in Zheijiang) 96% of HZ residents are annoyed by random parking of the dockless bikes, and the resultant sidewalk clutter which occurs. 

Perhaps the vast population of China proved too much to hold rental bikes in check, and perhaps countries like the UK, and indeed Singapore, can deal with the management of these bikes in a more efficient manner. 

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