A user rides Mobike's shared bikes in Manchester. (Photo provided to China Daily)
Chinese bike-sharing major Mobike said on Tuesday that it will launch services in the United Kingdom in Manchester and Salford at the end of this month as it ramps up efforts to compete with rivals such as ofo in overseas markets.
Mobike, backed by internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd, said it will roll out 1,000 bikes at the end of June. After the scheme is up and running, the company will consider future expansion.
The move is part of Mobike's ambitious plan to expand its presence in the European continent. The company said it will launch services to a series of European cities over the next few months.
Weiwei Hu, founder of Mobike, said: "We're very excited to make Manchester and Salford Mobike's first European partners. They have long been a European leader in culture, innovation and technology."
This came shortly after one of Mobike's most successful domestic competitors ofo came to the UK in April, which launched 50 bikes in Cambridge as part of a pilot program.
Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, said he hopes many people will swap their cars for bikes. He vowed to take a positive approach in promoting cycling in the region.
"We're conscious that our city center is a complex and busy area already," Burnham said. "Transport for Greater Manchester has been working hard to establish a voluntary code of working with Mobike to make sure the service operates in a way that doesn't inconvenience other road users, pedestrians or city center traders."
People using the shared bikes are usually charged for every 30 minute slot they have them, but details of the pricing structure for Manchester have not yet been released.
"If successful, it could play an important part of our long-term plans for cycling in the region and for making travel easier and more sustainable," Burnham said.
Mobike launched its bike-sharing service and has since rolled out schemes in China and Singapore. It now operates 5 million bikes. Greater Manchester is now the 100th city to host the service.
Mobike and ofo are locked in a fierce competition to vie for supremacy of the burgeoning sector. Their rental bikes are available at no cost to the taxpayer, unlike those championed by former London mayor Boris Johnson, the so-called "Boris bikes", that are partially funded by Transport for London.