Chinese bicycle-sharing ventures expand operations in Israel

The bicycles do not need parking stations because they come with a built-in lock.

May 3, 2018 20:09
2 minute read.
A man holds his mobile phone displaying the Mobike app next to a parked bicycle

A man holds his mobile phone displaying the Mobike app next to a parked bicycle. (photo credit: HENRY ROMERO / REUTERS)

(Tribune News Service) - Shared bicycle ventures reached Israel from China a long time ago – and now two of them, Ofo and Mobike, are expanding their nationwide deployment. Following a pilot at Bar Ilan University, Ofo is commencing operations in Ramat Gan, while Mobike is expanding its presence in Rehovot and at Tel Aviv University.

The idea is that these bicycles do not need parking stations because they come with a built-in lock. Ofo will gradually place 500 bicycles on the streets of Ramat Gan. At the same time, the service will also begin on the grounds of Sheba Medical Center (Tel Hashomer) in order to add to the mobility of visitors and hospital staff.

The Mobike venture is announcing the expansion of its presence. There are currently 200 Mobikes in Rehovot and the venture is already operating near Haifa in Kiryat Motzkin and Kiryat Bialik.

Entering Tel Aviv University is a big step forward for Mobike. Operations are in cooperation with Nehes, the Tel Aviv University student union’s economic corporation. Hundreds of bicycles will be placed on campuses. During the run-in period, service for students will be free of charge.

The new expansion is a step towards Mobike’s goal of introducing the venture in Tel Aviv, especially given that campus bicycle users will be able to take them away from the campus and leave them elsewhere in the city. Tel Aviv already has the Tel-O-Fun venture, which prevents competing ventures (most of which are more efficient) from entering Tel Aviv.

Mobike’s next target is the Jordan Valley. The company is also in tender proceedings in Rishon Lezion and Ashdod.

The Ofo and Mobike setups are based on locating the bicycles through a special application. The bicycles can be collected from anywhere; scanning a QR code will make it possible to open and lock the bicycles. After the journey, riders do not have to go to a parking station – they can leave the bicycle in a designated parking space.

Half an hour of bicycle riding will cost NIS 1 in the first month of Ofo’s launch, after which the price will rise to NIS 2.90. The cost of the service is figured from the time the bicycle is unlocked until the time it is locked again at the rider’s destination. During the pilot period, Mobike’s service will be free, and the price will subsequently vary from NIS 2-4 per half hour of riding.

Both ventures operate in a number of countries around the world, with millions of bicycles serving millions of users. Israel Railways, together with the Ministry of Transport, recently announced the opening of a tender to place shared bicycles at railway stations throughout Israel for the purpose of aiding passengers on public transportation and making the stations more accessible to a larger group of passengers.

Mobike currently operates nine million bicycles for over 200 million customers who make over 30 million daily trips.

(c)2018 the Globes (Tel Aviv, Israel). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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