Our morality is being put to the test in a major way. You may have noticed the rash of orange bikes which have suddenly sprung up everywhere. They are ‘Mobikes’ – bikes for sharing which cost just 50p for half an hour to use (once you’ve paid your £1 deposit) and are unlockable via an app. But can we be trusted with them?
My American neighbour expressed the view that the project, the brainchild of a Chinese firm, was doomed to failure in England because we were all tea-leafs and unlike other cities like Berlin or Milan we would hide them away in our houses instead of using them and leaving them in the street for someone else to use like you’re supposed to.
I took issue with her naturally, in defence of our nation, but then I Googled Mobikes and came across Helen Pidd’s brilliant piece in the Guardian about how the scheme had gone down in Manchester when it was introduced last summer.
“I was an immediate convert” she writes, “boasting about the superiority of our new bike-sharing system over London’s, pitying sadsacks in the capital who had to trundle around looking for a docking station…
“I really wanted to believe that Mancunians could be trusted with nice things” she says but “two weeks on and I fear that a dream is all it was. There are Mobikes in the canal, Mobikes in bins and I am fed up with following the app to a residential street where there is clearly a Mobike stashed in someone’s garden. On launch day, the Chinese designer told me the bikes were basically indestructible and should last four years without maintenance. It took a matter of hours before local scallies worked out how to disable the GPS trackers and smash off the back wheel locks”.
We have these bikes on a trial basis for a year in Chiswick. A year in which to prove that we in Chiswick are better than that and can be trusted to share!