Sharing bikes to promote green transport
The burgeoning bicycle-sharing business, bolstered by bike-ondemand service apps such as Beijing-based Mobike and ofo, has made some inroads into an increasing number of Chinese cities after successful trials in the past year.
Since August Mobike has landed four rounds of financing worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Its major rival ofo, which got space to park its first batch of yellow bicycles on university campuses more than a year ago and recently began offering the service to communities, is now valued at $500 million thanks to endorsements by big names such as Didi Chuxing.
GPS-enabled and painted in distinctive orange, at least 100,000 Mobikes are in service in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Chengdu. And with its signature yellow bikes, ofo now connects about 227,000 bicycles in 21 cities, many of which are collected from local bike owners and producers. Newcomers like Hello-bike and Ubike are catching up.
The investment spree best exemplifies the vitality of the internet-driven “sharing economy” and the difference the ride-ondemand services can make as a derivative. Unlike traditional public bikes that have to be borrowed at and returned to a bike stand after a journey, sharing bikes save people from such troubles.