I was fascinated when I saw that bike share bikes had arrived in Southampton in September 2017. I’d read about the success (and failure) of similar schemes in other cities and countries. How would Yobike fare here?
Vandalism and theft
Bike theft seems to be a particular problem in this city. I wondered how long the bikes would last before being trashed or abandoned in inappropriate places. According to the YoBike website: “They… include inbuilt GPS tracking, an alarm system that goes off when tampered with, and custom parts of little use to standard bikes, thus tricky to resell.” I don’t know whether there have been problems. There are regularly 4 bikes parked reasonably close to where I live and I sometimes see that they are on the ground. I don’t know whether they have fallen over or whether they have been deliberately knocked over.
YoBikes are dockless bikes, so they do not have to be left in specific docking stations. They are unlocked by a mobile app, which does mean that they are a little more flexible than some other bike share schemes.
Cost of using a YoBike
I’m not sure how many bikes are currently in the city – I believe it is somewhere between 300 and 700. I’m assuming that this number may increase if the bikes have proved to be popular. An annual YoBikes commuter pass costs £29 for students and university staff. It costs £39 for other people (2 x 1 hour rides a day). There is also a pay as you go option at a cost of £1 per hour, capped at £5/24 hours. Although you could argue that for anyone who is thinking of regularly using a bike it may be better to buy one, riders don’t have to worry about these bikes being stolen and don’t have to pay the maintenance costs.
I was interested to find out how easy the bikes are to ride as I’m used to riding reasonably lightweight bikes.
I’ve tried them a few times now and have found them OK for a quick commute around town. There’s more of a challenge when you hit a hill as the gears seem to go ‘easy, easy, hard’, but maybe that’s just been the ones I’ve ridden!
The bikes are easy to lock up and unlock and the saddles are easy to adjust.
I’ve had a few problems with the app not showing the information I need, but I guess that may have been more of a connection issue.
Hire bike challenges
I remember reading about three charity cyclists who took a ‘Boris Bike’ up Mont Ventoux and back to London within 24 hours, but that seems like nothing in comparison with this:
I wonder whether anyone from Southampton has taken a Yobike and cycled up Blissford Hill. I’ve found it hard enough on a road bike (and have done the ‘walk of shame’ on it many times). It’s unlikely to be me to take this challenge!