But the bike-sharing service say they plan to improve and expand the service

Chinese bike sharing app Mobike have removed all of their bikes from the streets of Manchester, less than six months after launching.

The unannounced move left many users puzzled this week, with some suggesting on social media that the firm had decided to pull out of the city following problems with vandalism.

However, Mobike were quick to dispel rumours, apologising for the abrupt removal and announcing plans to improve and expand the service.

Mobike's statement:

'Following the launch of our Pilot in Manchester in June, Mobike is now moving to the next phase of our development programme. 

'We have re-defined the area in central Manchester where our bikes will operate. This new area will ensure that more bikes are located in the city centre, in order to improve accessibility and availability for our Mobikers. 

'After reviewing our progress to date, we found that our bikes were becoming too dispersed throughout the city, and limiting availability to our users. Distributing bikes in a new, more concentrated area, will better ensure that Mobikers can easily find a Mobike when they are in the operating zone. 

'Over the coming months, we will gradually increase the number of bikes as well as the size of the geographic area to include more parts of the city.'

Mobike Manchester will now operate within a new red zone laid out on the map within the app. 

Users are free to ride outside of the red zone, however, bikes must be returned to within the red zone at the end of each use (not much good for those using the bikes to cycle to homes beyond the city centre).

The firm says Mobikers who leave bikes outside of this red zone may have points deducted in the future. Those users who fall below a certain 'credit score' are subjected to price increases.

Mobike Manchester Red Zone
Users leaving Mobikes outside the new red zone will be penalised - but surely include the University campuses? Mobike

Steve Pyer of Mobike UK said: "Manchester has been a hugely valuable learning experience for us as we launch in the UK. The changes that we are making are designed to improve the customer experience."

Regarding the reports of widespread vandalism, Pyer told Confidential last month: 

“In every city we have launched, we have observed a small element of misuse in the weeks following launch, but the number of issues always decrease. It is the case for Manchester: the amount of vandalism reports stabilised a few weeks into the scheme, and is now steadily declining."

Mobike told Confidential that despite reports, only 29 were out of commission (accurate to September 25). Read the article here.

Mobike plan to begin introducing bikes back to Manchester later this week.

170613 Mobike 3
Steve Pyer of Mobike UK says reports of vandalism are 'steadily declining'