Careem acquires Abu Dhabi's Cyacle bike-share company

Cyacle currently has 50 bike docking stations in the capital and is set to expand regionally under new ownership

Take part in the Cyacle Bikeshare event tomorrow on the Abu Dhabi Corniche. Cyacle
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Careem has acquired UAE-based bike-sharing company Cyacle for an undisclosed sum as the ride-hailing company makes its first foray into "micro-mobility" - an increasingly popular service providing easy access to scooter and bike rentals in urban areas.

“Many journeys are relatively short in distance, including those to and from transportation hubs such as metro and bus stations," Magnus Olsson, Careem’s co-founder, said. "So increasing bicycle availability and expanding routes will transform how people commute, as well as offering micro-mobility solutions for short-distance trips.”

Cyacle was rolled out in Abu Dhabi in December 2014 with backing from the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development.

The venture has 50 docked bike-share stations throughout the emirate, which run 24-hours a day through an app, a touch screen kiosk and docking system that releases bikes using a ride code or a member key, according to its website. The company charges Dh20 for a day pass of unlimited rides of up to 60 minutes each, or Dh50 for three-day access to its bikes.

More than $5.7 billion has been poured into micro-mobility by investors since 2015, growing two to three times faster than either car sharing or ride hailing, according to McKinsey. In just a few years, micro-mobility start-ups like Bird and Lime - US-based operators of electric-powered bicycles and scooters in cities across North America and Europe - have reached valuations exceeding $1bn.

In a report published in January McKinsey attributes the rapid growth of micro-mobility to urban consumers who already value shared transportation, from experiences with ride-hailing apps like Uber or Careem, and the basic fact it "appears to make people happy."

"It’s faster than car-based trips in many situations, and users often say the freedom of being in the fresh air traveling to their destinations while avoiding traffic jams puts a smile on their face," the consultancy said.

A Cyacle rider bikes along the Corniche in Abu Dhabi. Courtesy Cyacle

Under the sale agreement between Cyacle and Careem, a new app will be available for iOS and Android. Users can access the bikes through the app, Careem's main app or physically at one of the docking stations with credit and debit cards. The service will offer bikes through a range of daily to yearly memberships.

“The start-up scene in the UAE is now such a fast-moving tech environment, and this just proves what we can do in this country,” said Hani Akasha, the founder of Cyacle.

Careem said it plans to bring bike-sharing to more cities throughout the region over the next year. Last month, the company announced a bike-docking network in Dubai of 3,500 bicycles, in partnership with RTA.

In March, Uber agreed to acquire Careem for $3.1 billion (Dh11.39bn), the biggest technology deal in the Middle East to date.