China’s shared bicycle boom

Author: Sara Naumann

Visitors to any of China’s major cities – or even the minor ones – you will have noticed that riding a bicycle is en vogue these days. Until only recently, bicycles were shunned as an emblem of the past, but the proliferation of shared bikes across the country has suddenly made peddling cool again.

If bike share companies have not yet taken over the sidewalks of your hometown, you might be looking at Chinese commuters enviously, wishing you could hop on a bike to go sightseeing on your weekend off or even ride from the subway stop to your next meeting.

Introducing Mobike

Mobike is just one of the many shared bicycle companies in China. As a heavy user of shared bikes, I have found that I like using Mobike’s cycles the best. Their iconic silver frame trimmed in orange make their bikes stand out of the rainbow of shared bikes on the streets. In Shanghai, Mobike competes with various other bikes of yellow, green, blue and red & white hues.

With over 7 million bikes on the streets in 180 of China’s first-, second- and third-tier cities, and plans for entry into even smaller cities across the country, Mobike is almost everywhere in China.

Download the Global App

The simplest way to get started using Mobike is to download the app in your home country. Register your credit or debit card to ensure you have a payment option enabled. Once your account is set up, you’ll be able to use Mobike in any country they have operations. To date, this includes certain cities in the UK, Italy, South Korea, Australia, the US, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

When Abroad

You must have data roaming or WiFi on when using Mobike as it requires connectivity when you unlock a bike and for payment. Make sure you check with your cellular service provider and turn on data roaming if it is not automatically enabled when you leave your country. Data roaming can be expensive. In China, you can rent MiFi devices which use local 4G at a very low rate. You can then connect your phone to the device creating your own mobile network. Look into getting a MiFi if data roaming is too expensive.

Unlock and Go!

It’s hard to describe the proliferation of shared bikes on the streets in China without seeing it, but Mobikes truly seem to be everywhere. And if you really are having trouble finding one, open the app and you’ll see a map illustrating where the closest bike is located.

Use the app’s unlocking function by scanning the Mobike’s unique QR code. Codes are typically located behind the seat and between the handlebars. After you’ve finished your ride, simply park the bike along a street in a designated bicycle parking zone. Don’t forget to lock your Mobike after the ride or you may be locked out of the app for a while.

It’s that simple. Mobike has made inner-city commuting in many cities in China easy and enjoyable.3

Photo credits: Mobike

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