- Title: Bike-share app boom brings fierce competition, floods of bikes to Chinese cities
- Date: 12th May 2017
- Summary: BEIJING, CHINA (RECENT - APRIL 10, 2017) (REUTERS) SMARTPHONE SCANNING QE CODE ON A BIKE
- Embargoed: 26th May 2017 05:23
- Keywords: app mobile smartphone transport transportation urban landscape bike-sharing bikes China bicyles
- Location: BEIJING / DANYANG CITY, JIANGSU PROVINCE / SHANGHAI, CHINA
- City: BEIJING / DANYANG CITY, JIANGSU PROVINCE / SHANGHAI, CHINA
- Country: China
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment,Living / Lifestyle,Human Interest / Brights / Odd News,Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA0026GJ7Z2X
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Mobile bike-sharing apps in China have brought the once-dwindling population of bikes back with a vengeance to city streets.
The competition is proving so fierce that subway entrances and sidewalks are now piled high with bicycles, and the roads are seeing an onslaught of cyclists, particularly at peak hours.
With just a scan of the bike's QR code with a smartphone, you can jet off for a ride that costs just 1 yuan ($0.14). It can be picked up and dropped off anywhere.
Like many growing industries attempting to cash in on China's mobile-savvy consumers, bike sharing app companies are rapidly expanding across the country.
Ofo, known for its trademark yellow bikes, is now worth over $1 billion and has expanded to 100 cities globally since its founding in 2014, 70 of which were added this year alone. It claims 20 million registered users and also has pilot schemes in Singapore, the U.K., and the U.S.
Ofo's goal, according to its president Zhang Siding, who founded the company with a few fellow graduates from Peking University, is to reshape the urban space of Chinese cities.
"We hope that for the future of the city's development process, planning will no longer be centered around small cars, but we want it to be more like Copenhagen or Amsterdam," Zhang said.
Ofo's main competitor Mobike plans to add 10 million bikes to its arsenal this year, while Ofo said it will add 15 million to its already-existing arsenal of 5 million - all through bike manufactures and partner companies.
Mobike says they had initially planned to expand to 100 cities globally by the end of 2017, but that that target looks likely to be hit soon.
Onlookers call this an all-out "bike war", according to Mobike co-founder Hu Wei-wei. "It will only be those who make the quality products that users need that will remain."
The bike-share frenzy is still in the early stages, though - despite companies reaping in millions of dollars in investors' money, their rapid expansion has yet to produce any profits.
"There's nothing that really differentiates any of these companies from any of the other ones, so it's hard to say anybody is really doing a better job," said retail analyst Ben Cavender of China Market Research Group.
Private bike sellers in Beijing have also taken a major hit to business; Zhang Lijun, who has owned a chain of bike stores on the outskirts of Beijing since 2005, said sales had dropped by one third by March in comparison to last year.
The street clutter and bike traffic jams are also proving to be a problem, some locals say.
"After they're done riding they just toss the bikes on the road. This will affect pedestrians and cars on the road. That's really dangerous. We call on them to put the bikes along marked areas. But still there some very people who aren't very conscientious," said Zhang Jincheng, a local Ofo employee who collects scattered bikes - a new service bike-share companies are offering in response to complaints from urban residents.
Beijing and Shanghai have also recently issued draft guidelines to increase regulations on bikes, including standards for parking, maintenance, and production, to cope with the new transport trend.
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