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Smart bike trial to launch in Manchester

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An innovative urban bike hire scheme which uses smart technology to help make cycling a more convenient travel choice is launching at the end of this month in Manchester.

The initiative of bike sharing company Mobike will see 1000 bicycles made available for public hire in central Manchester and Salford for a six week trial.

Each bike includes a built in smart lock and cashless smartphone app system, allowing users to pick up and drop them off at any convenient legal parking location. This means they do not have to be parked at dedicated docking stations.

Through the Mobike app users can rent a nearby bike, locate it using inbuilt GPS mapping and unlock it automatically by scanning a QR code on the vehicle.

Bikes will initially be available at popular sites such as railway stations and university campuses. Analysis of usage data will be used to ensure they are well distributed to meet user demand.

The trial, which starts on 29 June, is the first by Mobike outside of Asia where it runs similar cycle hire schemes in 100 cities.

The initiative has received support from local politicians. Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham commented: “I want to see many more people swapping their cars for bikes in Greater Manchester and I will take a positive approach to promoting cycling across our city region.

“This scheme could help make cycling more accessible to people. 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,” he added.

Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese said: “This is another way in which we can encourage residents to choose active, environmentally friendly travel and we look forward to working closely with Mobike and Transport for Greater Manchester in the coming weeks to examine and assess how the scheme will work in practice.”