Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

Subscribe free to our newsletters via your

Pedal power revival as bike-share apps race for glory
By Dan Martin
Shanghai (AFP) Feb 5, 2017

Unlock them with an app, drop them off anywhere, and nip past lanes of stationary car traffic: the humble bicycle is seeing a revival in China as a new generation of start-ups help tackle urban congestion and pollution with fleets of brightly coloured two wheelers.

The bike-share concept has attracted huge venture capital as fledgling firms wrestle for market share. Such has been the success of this made-in-China business model, which is using smart phones to reignite the nation's passion for cycling, companies are hatching plans to export the idea worldwide.

"We are focused on how to make the small bicycle have a big impact," said Davis Wang, CEO of Mobike, which launched last April in Shanghai and already has several hundred thousand of its silver-and-orange "smart" bikes in 13 Chinese cities.

Key rivals Mobike, Ofo and others are tapping into the sharing economy ethic behind Airbnb and ride-hailing apps such as Uber, and targeting China's 700 million mobile phone users, who increasingly use their smartphone for transactions.

Customers use the firm's app to release a bike's lock for rides costing as little as 1 yuan (15 cents) an hour. Bikes can be left anywhere for the next user.

Mobike's app also shows where idle bikes are, while both companies capture rider data they say can help in traffic planning.

"If we can persuade hundreds of thousands of people in every city to start to re-use bikes every day, then we can create a social impact for every city," Wang told AFP.

- Last-mile problem -

Once emblematic of China's masses, bikes lost ground as economic growth and urban sprawl fuelled consumer demand for cars -- the nation is now the world's largest automobile market.

Cities gridlocked by traffic and deteriorating air quality have prompted both government and consumers to search for greener solutions.

Industry evangelists say the new approach to bike sharing can help change that by solving the "first-mile/last-mile" problem that has long plagued urban planners: how to move commuters between their homes and public transit.

The inconvenience of travelling to a bus stop or metro station can be enough of a psychological barrier to push commuters toward taxis or car ownership.

"In places where the subway does not extend, where it's difficult to change from one kind of transport to another, it's so easy to get where you want to go with Mobike," said Hu Hong, 29, who pedals to her Shanghai real-estate job.

Some Chinese cities started municipal bike-rental schemes years ago that allow users to pick up and drop off their wheels at designated stations, similar to hundreds of programmes around the world.

Today's start-ups have removed that shackle, and the convenience of being able to drop off anywhere means a new generation of riders are now ubiquitous in cities such as Shanghai and Beijing.

Ofo, which launched in 2015 as a Peking University student project, claims 10 million users for its one million bright-yellow bikes in 33 cities. It plans to add 10-15 million bikes this year, chief operating officer Zhang Yanqi told AFP

Mobike shares a time-lapse graphic that, using its GPS system, tracks customer rides over a recent day in Shanghai.

Eager to cash in, Chinese and foreign investors have handed Mobike and Ofo hundreds of millions of dollars.

The ramp-up recalls the battle between China ride-hailing leader Didi Chuxing and Uber, into which both poured billions of dollars before joining forces last year with Didi in command.

Didi is among Ofo's biggest investors, while Mobike CEO Wang is a former Uber exec.

Mobike's investors include Chinese Internet giant Tencent and Taiwan tech-manufacturing powerhouse Foxconn, a major Apple supplier.

- Burning cash -

Jeffrey Towson, a professor of investing at Peking University, said "economic reality is being suspended" as rivals burn cash to grab turf.

"I think they're going to pull it off. A lot of businesses start this way: you have lightning in a bottle, a hot app, and you build a more sustainable business as you go," he explained.

Weaker entrants will drop out or be absorbed, Towson added.

China's government singled out Mobike and Ofo last month -- praising bike-sharing as a means of cutting emissions and traffic.

Ofo launched in Singapore in recent weeks, and is now eyeing US and European markets. Mobike plans to enter Singapore within weeks.

Analysts said regulatory issues, logistics, and lower use of mobile payments overseas could brake expansion.

Lower winter ridership and losses from damage and theft also will weigh on bottom lines, they add, but insist the future appears bright.

Both Mobike and Ofo loftily envision tens of millions of connected bikes worldwide.

"It has only just begun," said Ofo's Zhang.

"We hope to fulfil this vision in the next two to three years."

Comment on this article using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only


Related Links
Car Technology at

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
Chinese, Mexican automakers team up to make SUVs
Mexico City (AFP) Feb 2, 2017
China's JAC Motors and a Mexican firm are teaming up to invest $212 million in a plant to produce sport-utility vehicles in central Mexico, officials said Wednesday amid trade tensions with the United States. The deal will expand the capacity of a plant owned by the Mexican company, Giant Motors Latinoamerica, in Ciudad Sahagun, central Hidalgo state. Giant Motors director Elias Massri s ... read more

Full Braking at Alpha Centauri

New Era of Space Travel: Private Station May Replace ISS by Late 2020

Progress MS-03 cargo spacecraft to reenter January 31

Scientists and students tackle omics at NASA workshop

ISRO tests C25 Cryogenic Upper Stage of GSLV MkIII

Russia to call tender for 2nd Phase of Vostochny Spaceport construction in Fall

NASA sounding rocket launches into Alaskan night

Russia to check space flight engines over faulty parts

Similar-Looking Ridges on Mars Have Diverse Origins

Commercial Crew's Role in Path to Mars

Meteorite reveals 2 billion years of volcanic activity on Mars

Bursts of methane may have warmed early Mars

China looks to Mars, Jupiter exploration

China's first cargo spacecraft to leave factory

China launches commercial rocket mission Kuaizhou-1A

China Space Plan to Develop "Strength and Size"

Space, Ukrainian-style: Through Crisis to Revival

ESA Planetary Science Archive gets a new look

Iridium-1 NEXT Launched on a Falcon 9

Shaping the Future: Aerospace Works to Ensure an Informed Space Policy

New material that contracts when heated holds great industrial potential

Flipping the switch on ammonia production

Understanding breakups

Aavid Thermacore Europe's technology will keep solar satellite cool

Dedicated Planet Imager Opens Its Eyes to Other Worlds

New planet imager delivers first science at Keck

First footage of a living stylodactylid shrimp filter-feeding at depth of 4826m

SF State astronomer searches for signs of life on Wolf 1061 exoplanet

Public to Choose Jupiter Picture Sites for NASA Juno

Experiment resolves mystery about wind flows on Jupiter

Pluto Global Color Map

Lowell Observatory to renovate Pluto discovery telescope

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement