Chinese bicycle-sharing service Mobike expanding operations in Ramat Gan

Chinese bicycle-sharing service Mobike is expanding its operations in Israel, with hundreds of the company’s distinct orange and silver bicycles set to appear across Ramat Gan in the coming months.

Mobike bicycles, unlike other sharing initiatives which require permanent parking stations, are station-less, can be parked anywhere and are unlocked through the company’s smartphone application.

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The company’s expansion of operations into Ramat Gan, east of Tel Aviv, follows Mobike’s launches in Tel Aviv, Rehovot, Kiryat Motzkin, Kiryat Bialik and Tzoran-Kadima during the last four months.

Approximately 45,000 Israelis have so far subscribed to or use the service, which is operated in Israel by . It has no sign-up fee and costs NIS 3.9 for every 30 minutes of use.

“We are delighted by the collaboration with the Ramat Gan Municipality and thank them for the trust that they have invested in us to lead the field of shared riding in their city,” said Liran Gilboa, head of operations for Mobike Israel.

“This collaboration is of strategic importance, and it is our intention to expand into the area and provide an easy and efficient transport solution instead of moving around the city in a private vehicle.”

“Given the considerable demand for shared bicycles among the city’s residents, we are happy to bring Mobike shared bicycles to Ramat Gan, offering a solution for alternative, eco-friendly and comfortable transport that is tailored to our residents’ needs,” said Ramat Gan Mayor Yisrael Zinger.

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Since its launch in Tel Aviv, Mobike has experienced a difficult relationship with local authorities and residents.

Tel Aviv Municipality has refused to cooperate with the company, which competes with the city’s Tel-O-Fun bicycle rental service, and has confiscated dozens of bicycles obstructing pedestrian or vehicle traffic flow.

Residents have been vocal in their criticism of the company and its users on social media, with little attention paid by many to Mobike’s recommended parking instructions. Sidewalks are regularly blocked, causing problems for pedestrians and especially those in wheelchairs or pushing prams.

Mobike, founded by Hu Weiwei in January 2016, currently operates in more than 200 cities in 19 countries across Europe, Asia and North and South America. It boasts more than nine million bicycles, used by 200 million customers making more than 30 million daily trips.

The company’s expansion into Ramat Gan follows the decision of Chinese bicycle-sharing service Ofo to discontinue its activity in the city in July after a three-month pilot program.

In August, Los Angeles-based transportation company Bird deployed its electric scooter-sharing service across Tel Aviv. Like Mobike, the scooters are station-less and can be parked anywhere in the city.

The expansion of shared transportation options comes as crowding on Israel’s roads continues to worsen, the Central Bureau of Statistics announced on Sunday. Since 2000, crowding on the country’s roads has grown by 63%, and the number of vehicles on Israel’s roads has increased by 84%.

The annual distance traveled by motor vehicles has also increased, reaching almost 60 billion km. in 2017, an increase of 4.2% since 2016, with the average private car traveling 16,200 km. last year.

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