oBike arrives in Madrid: a bicycle service shared throughout the city

Shared mobility continues to make inroads in large cities with the consequent improvement in traffic, a decrease in pollution and greater convenience for citizens to access all places. When we talk about shared mobility surely the first thing you think about is carsharing companies such as Emov or Car2Go; from today we can enjoy in the capital a new shared bicycle service that comes to offer us more options: it is oBike.

The main novelty of this service of shared bicycles or bikesharing is that, as they do not have an engine, they do not need charging stations to fill up the batteries of the bicycle and, therefore, they can be parked anywhere (anywhere where bicycles are allowed to park, it is understood, and always within the municipality of Madrid, being able to leave the M-30 zone).

The service, according to the company, will be free throughout the month of October, with the user having to make only a refundable deposit of 49 euros as a way that the user is always responsible for the bicycle. Here’s how this new service works.

This is how you can start riding with oBike

To start using oBike all we have to do is download its free application (available on IOS and android), register through the app and you’re done. In the map will appear the bicycles available and close to us in the form of yellow icons. We can reserve the bikes for a period of ten minutes through the app, before unlocking them.

The bicycles have a Bluetooth locking and unlocking system: once the bicycle we are going to use has been located, we scan the QR code on the handlebar with our phone and unlock the padlock. When we finish our journey, we park the bicycle, put the lock back and so ends our journey.

The bicycles have a GPS positioning system that tells us where they are at all times, as well as a tracking system that tells us in our user account how many kilometers we have traveled, how many calories (approximately) we have burned, and so on.

Price per trip and points system

The price of each trip depends on the user points we have: each user starts with 100 points that can go up or down depending on the behavior of it. According to the same application, “the oBike points system is used to promote non-fraudulent travel and responsible behavior”. Thus, for example, if you park your bicycle in an area not designated for this purpose, 20 points are lost; or if traffic rules are violated during a trip, the points balance is reduced to zero.

In the same way, the user who circulates responsibly is also rewarded by increasing his points in the application, and thus being able to obtain prizes and discounts. If we report a bicycle breakdown through the app, for example, two points will be added to our balance.

With 100 points, the bicycle trip will cost 0.50 euros for 30 minutes, while if we have between 0 and 60 points, the trip will cost 10 euros for 30 minutes. A system that seeks to dissuade those who are not going to make a civic use of the bicycle.

Is it a good option for Madrid?

This new bike sharing company can certainly compete with BiciMad: oBike’s prices are similar (as long as we have all our points) and the fact that we can park where we want and not have to limit ourselves to the charging stations is an advantage for the user. Of course, being able to leave the M-30 zone with your bike is another of the great advantages of oBike over BiciMad.

The main disadvantage? That bicycles do not have a motor to support the cyclist, and the slopes of Madrid are pronounced (depending on the area) to climb them “by hair”. They don’t have gears either, something that they could implement for the benefit of the user in their next fleets. The deposit of 49 euros can also pull back some users when making that first outlay.

oBike will have to be given time to see how it works and if it is implemented in other Spanish cities. At the moment, we welcome all ideas to improve mobility in cities.