This is how bike sharing should be done

GPS-tracked city bikes can be left wherever you like

A colourful two-wheeled takeover is currently gripping the streets of Bristol, UK, following the launch of YoBike – a fresh cycle sharing scheme from a Chinese tech entrepreneur.

Launched last Tuesday, the on-demand cycle-sharing scheme allows customers to hire a city bike for £1 an hour, or £5 for 24 hours, while an annual commuter pass entitles a rider to two one-hour-long journeys each day for a year for £39. The scheme closely emulates similar ideas that are proving extremely popular throughout Asia as well as European car sharing scheme DriveNow.

Convenience is of course key with a scheme such as this one, and one of the biggest selling points of YoBike is the fact it doesn’t have to be taken from or returned to a docking station. Instead, inbuilt GPS tracking and an integrated lock mean that YoBikes can be left anywhere that’s considered safe and legal across the entire city.

The lurid yellow frames mean you won't easily miss one on the streets
The lurid yellow frames mean you won't easily miss one on the streets

Hiring a YoBike starts with downloading an app through either the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, then registering with a mobile number or email address. 

A map will then point you in the direction of the nearest YoBike which holds a unique QR code and identification number. Scanning this QR code or entering the number will then unlock the bike for your own use. 

Once the ride is through the rider must notify the app that their trip is complete and lock the bike via its wheel lock in order to not incur any additional charges.

The bikes themselves are easily distinguished thanks to their bright yellow paintwork, while their alloy step-through style frames are dressed in practical accessories including lights, full mudguards and a front rack.

300 YoBikes are already active within Bristol with that number expecting to increase to 500 before the end of the month.

GPS tracking means the bikes don't have to be returned to a specific zone
GPS tracking means the bikes don't have to be returned to a specific zone

YoBike has also partnered with Life Cycle, a Bristol cycling charity to maintain the bikes. Following the initial launch phase, prisoners at the city’s HMP Bristol Prison will help assemble, maintain and repair them when necessary.

Such a system is always going to be open to abuse and sadly a certain reprobate has already decided to vandalise at least one of the scheme’s bikes in what YoBike has described as an isolated incident.

Still, we’ve certainly seen a dramatic increase in yellow bicycles riding past our Bristol office block and we do hope the scheme proves successful.  We’ll be having a go on one very soon so stay tuned for the first ride.

Oli Woodman

Section Editor, UK
With more than 10 years of experience riding mountain bikes, Oli knows the good from the bad when it comes to gear. He's a total bike nerd and loves few things more than fettling with spangly riding bits. Also, he seems to have a talent for crashing hard but emerging unscathed.
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: Loamy singletrack
  • Current Bikes: Marin Pine Mountain, Pinnacle Dolomite
  • Dream Bike: Honda RN01
  • Beer of Choice: Corona
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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