Gobee.bike – introduced to Paris on Monday – is the latest bike-sharing scheme to hit the streets of the French capital.
Initially launched in the northern French city of Lille on Thursday, the bright green bikes have made their debut on the streets of the capital and its western suburbs.
With a fleet of several hundred bikes which can be picked up and dropped off anywhere in the city, perhaps the most important factor for those who rely on renting bikes to get around the city will be that Gobee.bike doesn't use docking stations.
This means that unlike the Velib' system, the new scheme gets rid of the common problem of bike stations in Montmartre, Montparnasse and Buttes Chaumont remaining empty for long periods of time as users use them to cycle downhill but rarely use them to slog up the capital's hills.
With Gobee.bike, the bikes can be located on an app and unlocked with a scannable QR code, unique to each of them.
The catch is that the cost of hiring one of the new bikes is 50 centimes for half an hour, while with the Velib’ the first 30 minutes is free (although there have been hints that this could soon change).
But the founder of Gobee.bike claims he doesn't see the conflict.
“We think that the two systems are complementary,” Raphaël Cohen, founder and CEO of Gobee.bike told Le Parisien. “Yes our service is more expensive but what we’re offering is more practical – you don’t have to worry about finding a bike in your nearest docking station or about finding somewhere to put it when you’ve finished using it.”
The businessman, who has already tested out the system in Hong Kong where he currently lives, also pointed out that the introduction of Gobee.bike was done entirely at the company’s own expense.
“It doesn’t cost communities anything” because there’s no need to build a station, he said.
The Velib' bike system is however set to hit back at the competition with a major overhaul including a fleet of new bikes.
The famed Velib' bike-sharing scheme will move from JCDecaux to the Smoovengo consortium led by Montpellier-based bike-sharing company Smoove, which will roll out new bikes.