How Do the China's Shared Bikes Spring Up? How About Their Current Situation?

Posted by tan xiao yan on

The shared bicycle is a new form of sharing economy, which means that enterprises cooperate with the government to provide cycling service in campus, Metro site, bus site, residential area, commercial district, and public service.

A research recently released has shown that in the 2016 China shared bicycle market until the end of 2016, China's share of the total number of cycling market users has reached 18.86 million, the share of the cycle market users are expected to continue to maintain a substantial increase, in the end of 2017, achieving the size of 50 million users.

The report notes that China's shared cycling market has undergone three stages of development. During 2007-2010, in the first stage, the public cycling mode rising in foreign countries began to introduce into the domestic, at that time, the government dominates the city management, and most of the bikes are non-pile bicycle which has to be parked in the certain places. In 2010-2014 for the second stage, the companies specializing in the cycling market began to emerge, but the public bicycle still dominated to stay in the fixed parking place. The third stage is from 2014 to now. With the rapid development of mobile Internet, the Internet shared bicycle headed by OFO has emerged, and the more convenient non-pile bicycle which has begun replacing the pile of bicycles.

At present, in China's shared cycling market, the OFO and the Mobike, these two companies are more obvious advantages. The amount of the OFO bicycle is the most, reaching 800,000 units and market share 51.2%; Mobike has 600,000 units and market share 40.1%

Current Situation
The Mobike and OFO has received appraise from users in China

Here are some characters in the currently shared bikes.

Currently the Mobike costs either 1RMB or 0.5RMB per half hour. That’s unbelievable even here in China where everything’s cheap. The Mobike currently offer straight up cash for people who ride bikes that have been underutilized either because of the last owner’s parked location and/or other various reasons. The deposit amount is 299RMB, which is a hard pill to swallow for us middle-class citizens. Often, people can get free rides. They are free within a short period which is usually enough for the users to get to the destination.

High Quality
The bikes are high quality and therefore make the ride comfortable and fun. The brakes always work and many of them even have sweet little baskets on the front where you can stash your bag for the ride. Handling is a bit sensitive. This can be good to meander through crowds of people and cars, but the handlebars are quite sensitive and take a little bit of time to get used to. Tires of the yellow OFO do require to be pumped. The tires of orange Mobike does not require to be pumped up. It has this rubber tires with holes in it, which are supposed to be soft enough to ride.

Easy to Register
If you want to ride a shared bike, you can register directly in the app and it’s very simple. Yes, you have to scan your ID and give a deposit of 299RMB (~43USD) for a Mobike, but it’s still way easier than the rental bikes docked near the metro stations. With those bikes, you have to traipse down to the local municipality and fill out a bunch of paperwork in addition to leaving a deposit before you can ride.

Reserve Conveniently
You can reserve a shared bike in Wechat. The Wechat has a mini app for Mobike or OFO directly in its list of mini-programs so you actually don’t even need to download the app at all if you don’t want to. If you want the English interface, however, you should download the app. The app is brilliant. The app has a great feature which shows you a map of all the bikes around you. It points out the closest bike and even lets you make a reservation for one. If you reserve a bike, no one can take it for the next 15 minutes. So while you’re waiting for the elevator at home or at work, you can find and claim a bike so that you don’t have to search for one or risk someone grabbing the one closest to you. Then, you just scan the QR code with the app and within 10 seconds you hear the CLICK and wham, you’re ready to ride. It tracks your trips and even shows you how much energy you’re burning up.

Fast to Lock and Well Maintained
The last thing you want to deal with when you’re in a hurry is some cumbersome way to lock the bike. It literally takes 2 seconds with Mobike- you just pull the lock down and instantly hear the click. This is in part because users earn credit by reporting issues with the bikes. If you reach a bike and another user has reported a problem, it politely tells you “Sorry, I’m in need of maintenance.”

Government’s Action
The shared bike is in a legal limbo and caused a lot of problems to city management. Yet the government does not outright ban the shared bike. Beijing and Shanghai governments are circulating draft regulations on shared bikes. The regulation is expected to be implemented soon. The Chinese government is generally very open-minded about new things now. Such an attitude from the government is necessary for the society to progress.

Constantly innovating
It’s really a good concept of the sharing. Meanwhile, it is said that the bikes are fairly good and fairly stylish. They’re nowhere near “rubbish”, and the various companies are constantly innovating. There’s a new release by another bike-share company Blue goo that even features a three-speed transmission system.

1. The bike seats can’t really be adjusted. So if you’re quite tall, then it might not be very comfortable to ride these bikes.
2.There are and will be people not parking their bikes correctly, making it harder for the next user to locate. Also, these bikes tend to end up all over the place, blocking roads and paths etc. Sometimes get in the way of the pedestrian.
3. Vandalism is an important issue. It’s said that about 30% of bikes deployed are damaged and un-usable. There are all sorts of vandalism and abuse going on - putting on your own lock, removing QR code, even stealing and repainting.
It's a great idea but there are definitely problems. With more issue appearing, companies of shared bikes and the government plan to take action. It's going to be interesting to see how this further measure to handle the downside. The users of shared bikes appeal everyone to follow the rules, otherwise, the running cost would go high in order to prevent the bikes from being stolen, being damaged, being hidden and kept for private usage, which makes the business unsustainable.