Mobike is a new bike-rental system that has recently been integrated into the London borough of Hounslow. The scheme was initially introduced following its success in the neighbouring borough of Ealing and will be trialled over a period of twelve months. The system is very beneficial to the council as each bike is fitted with a ‘smart lock’, a device that enables the back wheel to be locked and the bike to be GPS tracked, which removes the necessity for expensive docking stations that consume a lot of space. However, the introduction is not without its controversies and the local residents have a lot to say regarding the sustainability of the scheme.

One of the most contentious issues is the lack of care displayed by a number of its users. Many bikes are being dumped in public areas and are obstructing access to pedestrians, causing them to become very prominent hazards in the area. Mrs Hoyaux, 75, a pensioner, stated that she ‘nearly tripped over one of these monstrosities. In addition, some members of the community have complained about the incongruity of these bikes that they claim have no place in their beautiful home town. At the same time, the shortcomings do not seem to only be aesthetic but also seem to materialise in terms of quality. Mr. Ludovico, 26, an au pair based in Chiswick described the bikes as ‘tacky’ and ‘plastic-looking’ and also exclaimed that ‘you know what they say, you only get one chance to make a good first impression. But they certainly have not succeeded in doing so here!’. Moreover, the safety of users does not seem to have been taken into account as many end up riding without a helmet and are out at risk as a result

However, the bikes do have their advantages. It will only cost you a mere 50 pence for every half hour of use which means it is a very cost-effective way of travelling in and around the borough. Statistically-speaking it is the most economical mode of transport in London and it is also a very easy-to-use service. Consequently, users have peace of mind as they do not have to worry about theft or loss. In addition, the scheme has clear environmental and health advantages. Users benefit from exercise while also helping the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing the number of cars on the road.

Overall, many doubts and concerns that surround the durability of the system still remain. The scheme has obvious advantages and disadvantages and we will have to wait and see which the council decides outweighs the other at the end of the twelve month trial.