China's Latest Craze

Bike-sharing has hit China's major cities in a very big way. The last six month has seen a boom of colourful bicycles on streets, with the most number in Shanghai- 450,000 bicyles. Unlike other bike-sharing companies, here we can pick them up and drop them off anywhere; no need for docking stations.

I was in Beijing and rode back to my hotel after meeting a friend. It took less time than the taxi ride there. 

I was in Beijing and rode back to my hotel after meeting a friend. It took less time than the taxi ride there. 

There were about 30 companies at the outset but now, the two biggest companies are Mobike and ofo. Mobike costs 1 rmb per hour and ofo costs .50 rmb per hour. That's crazy no? The companies claim that the bikes only need to be used 2-3 times per day to break even. There are no current projections as to when profitability will begin but it's been six months and smaller companies have already started to drop out of the race. Remember it took a very long time before Amazon was able to generate profits.

Unlocking the bikes with an app. 

Unlocking the bikes with an app. 

Personally I think it's great to see so many people on bikes again and our Chinese friends say they love that they can enjoy being active with their friends and family and instead of going for walks after dinner, they all jump on bikes and go for a ride together. The cost is minimal and everyone can join in.

Image source: businessinsider.com.au

Image source: businessinsider.com.au

Unfortunately, the bike-sharing isn't properly regulated and some bikes get left at very inconvenient or weird places. The Shanghai police recently went through the city and picked up any loose bike lying around and got them off the streets. They are now working to get some rules and regulations in place for the operating companies. I've read that Mobike, ofo and Bluegogo are aiming for the overseas markets as well... some without official permission... Uber-style.