Beijing used to be a city of bikes
Thats how the story. goes, but with the industrialization of the country, the car took charge and bikes became a unpopular and ancient way of transportation. Flash forward to the start of 2017 and suddenly rental bike companies started a massive trend that has swept the city leaving carnage and bikes everywhere, and when I say everywhere I mean everywhere.
I arrived in Beijing in March this year and was in awe of the Yellow and orange bikes that it seemed everyone in the city was sporting. A simple concept, an app on your phone, equipped with a QR reader inside. Find a bike not the map, scan the QR code located on the front or the back of the bike, wait a second for it to unlock and off you go! Simple right?
In the four months that I have been here, this craze has swept the whole city and on every street corner you can be met with sights such as this, row upon upon row of bikes. The disease has not only been caught by the general population but other companies have taken on the craze also.
Like I said I have only been in this city for four months and in that time the companies have grown from two when I first arrived to four. Companies which seemed to appear overnight! the companies are as follows;
Unfortunately only Ofo and Mobike at present are available for foreigners to download from the app store.
Did I mention cost? It’s the cheapest way to get around the city!
Take mobike for example;
There is a deposit of 300 rmb and a ride is on average 5 or even less! and if you are lucky sometimes there are red packet rides which are either free or gives you a chance to win credit!
Seems such a great idea right? Unfortunately this cycling boom hit the city hard, expanding so rapidly without much planning or thought on the sheer number of bikes that it has caused havoc in the city streets. The simple concept of unlock, ride to where you need to go, lock and walk away
Unfortunately this has caused utter chaos and sights such as huge piles of bikes knocked over and blocking walkways and being carried away by transport officials in trucks is a daily occurrence!
The chaos has become so bad that transport officials have started to put regulations in place that have forced the cheaper companies such as Ofo to insert gps into their bikes and have started to paint ‘parking’ spots on the pavements and have forced the companies themselves to install fines on users who park bikes incorrectly.
I love biking and I think if used correctly is something that I wish other cities would implement, after learning from Beijing’s mistakes and have more forward planning I think!
Beijingers what are your thoughts on the bike boom? Are you for the bikes or against?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Until next time,