One of the Mobike bicycles takes to the streets of historic Florence, Italy. (Photo/China Daily)
Mobike, the Chinese dockless bike-sharing company, is adding to its international expansion with the launch of two schemes in Italy.
The firm said it will make 8,000 of its distinctive silver and orange smart bicycles available from next month in the Tuscan capital of Florence and the northern city of Milan.
The bikes will be placed in selected high-demand areas to "help alleviate automobile traffic and sustainably enhance mobility", the company said.
The move follows the Shanghai-based company's previous international expansions into Singapore, the UK and Japan.
It now has more than 100 million registered users, with 6 million bikes in operation globally in about 150 cities worldwide. By the end of this year, the company expects to reach at least 200 cities worldwide.
"We are delighted to enter the Italian market, and especially to launch Mobike's operations in both Florence and Milan, home to so many of history's greatest innovators and artists," Hu Weiwei, the founder of Mobike, said. "Mobike is committed to working side-by-side with our partners to preserve and enhance the enjoyment of both cities."
Mobike users download a smartphone app, register their details and pay a deposit. By using GPS navigation riders can find a bike near them and unlock it by scanning a QR code.
Users in Florence will be able to rent bikes at the price of 0.3 euros (.35) per half an hour during the trial period, from now to the official launch of the scheme in August.
Dario Nardella, the mayor of Florence, said the scheme helps the city achieve its aim of sustainable mobility.
"Florence has made an irreversible choice toward sustainable mobility today," Nardella said. "We are proud to be launching this innovative system as Italy's first stationless bikeshare. From now it will be even easier and faster to choose two wheels to move from one part of the city to another."
Mayor of Milan Beppe-Sala welcomed the arrival of Mobike.
"This launch shows that cities with a touristic and international profile like ours understand the strategic importance of investing in this form of sustainable mobility," he said.
China-based Ofo, the main rival to Mobike, is also boosting its international expansion and tapping the European market.
After launching in Singapore last year, Ofo has started bike-sharing in the British university city of Cambridge.