The bike-sharing company Mobike, based in Beijing, has made its foray into the Israeli market. The company started operating pilot schemes in many local authorities, including Kiryat Motzkin, Kiryat Bialik, Rehovot, Tsoran, Kadima, the Jordan Valley Regional Council and the Dead Sea area, last month. The company has plans to open operations in Ashdod and Jerusalem soon.
Mobike will operate through Car2Go, the car-sharing company. The company already has 2,500 bikes in Israel, and they expect that number to increase to 7,000 within a year.
Unlike other bike-sharing operations, Mobike bicycles are not tethered to fixed stations. The bikes can be picked up and dropped off at any bike parking place.
The concept is similar to how Car2Go works in Tel Aviv and Haifa. You pick up a Car2Go from anywhere on the street, and then drop it off anywhere on the street when you’re done. There’s no need to deal with reservations, refueling, lines or anything else.
With Mobike and Car2Go, Israel is clearly taking a different approach to the ridesharing movement.
Whereas many riders in many countries rely on Uber and Lyft drivers to get around, Israelis are sharing vehicles – not drivers. Yes, we still have taxis, but drivers for these two ridesharing behemoths won’t be found on our streets.
Israel ordered Uber to halt the limited service it offered in Israel in November 2017. The problem? Drivers were not properly insured and were not licensed to drive a taxi.
Uber’s taxi service, which is properly insured and licensed, is still operating.
There’s a downside to the ban. Services like Uber and Lyft allow everyday licensed drivers to earn extra money by giving people rides. There was also extra incentive to drive thanks to the Lyft driver promo and Uber sign-on bonus that are constantly being offered for a “limited time”. But rules must be followed, and the addition of bike-sharing services may keep more cars off the road.
Studies in the U.S. have shown that ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft actually increase road congestion instead of complementing public transportation.
Bike-sharing gives Israelis a different option. We can skip the taxi and hop on a bike. We get where we need to go and do something good for our health at the same time. And Mobike’s bicycles are very different from what most of us are used to. There are no exposed cables, and they have belts instead of chains. All bikes have airless tires and a cast aluminum frame. Seats are adjustable, and front baskets make it easy to carry your belongings.
Just pay for the ride, scan the QR code on the bike, and you’re unlocked and ready to go.
With both Car2Go and Mobike, users don’t have to jump through hoops to get where they need to go or deal with incompetent drivers.
The bike-sharing movement is gaining ground across the world, but it is wildly popular in China. The company has tens of millions of users in China, where it operates in over 160 cities.
Ofo has been in Israel for a little while longer than Mobike. They first launched their operations on the campus of Bar-Ilan University.