People in The Netherlands have probably noticed already.. there’s a massive influx of gray and yellow bikes. If you haven’t or have seen these bikes but wonder why they’re everywhere , OBike as they’re named, are in fact rental bikes. Rental bikes that you can find anywhere and be left anywhere. Which is good if you’re in between ‘too far to walk, too short to take public transport’, or if you don’t have a bike yourself and you need to go somewhere in the city fast.. that’s what they’re there for.
How do they work?
You download the Obike app to your Phone and it shows you on a map where near you is a bike you can rent. All bikes are equiped with GPS trackers, a bell and automatic lights that turn on when it’s dark. The rent is 50 cents per half hour (Be aware though, you pay a € 79,- deposit but students only pay €49 deposit 😉 ) . When you’ve come to the bike you’ve picked, you use the app to scan the QR code on the back of the bike and it will unlock and the time will start ticking.
Once arrived to your destination, it’s best you park them in an open place where other users can pick them up and rent them. When you lock the bike the app will calculate the time to what you have to pay and automatically take it off your account.
Are you afraid the bike near you will be taken before you can take it, you can reserve the bike for free for 10 minutes, so that gives you a bit to get to it.
That’s all great but where do they come from?
You’re right, where do they come from? Obike is owned by a Singapore based company. they started in the beginning of 2017 and so far they have grown out to be the biggest bike sharing system in the world and has since expanded to 11 countries including Taiwan, Korea, Malaysia, Australia, Thailand, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Switzerland. Despite intense competition in Singapore, Obike has achieved more than 1 million downloads to date, far surpassing it’s competitors. According to a third-party data agency, App Annie, it shows that the total number of app downloads from oBike has consistently been at the top, a strong showing from the SEA bike-sharing leader.
But why are you writing about it?
As I recently went to Shanghai, China for holiday I noticed that these bikes.. multiplied by a million were also everywhere in Shanghai, Wuxi and Nanjing. There are about five different types of companies that supply these bikes all over the cities and I’ve seen them stacked but also in completely neat rows. OFO is one of these companies, this company was started in 2014 by a group of students in Beijing. This has in China grown out to be one of the biggest aswell.
OFO has connected more than 7.5 million shared bicycles and provided almost 500 million shared bicycle rides. It also provided convenient travel services for more than 30 million users in 46 cities around the world. The application has booked more than 100 million rides in 2017. OFO has cooperated with Alipay, China’s largest online payment platform.
But also Mobike is huge, maybe even bigger than OFO and they also have a scoring system for their costumers, if you’ve parked wrong you lose points but you can also gain points by reporting bikes that have been parked wrong.
Users with scores less than 80 suffer a massive price increase to 100 yuan per 30 minutes (±€ 12,50 instead of (±€ 0,13). Users with a score of 0 are permanently banned from using Mobike. If a user believes that their score has been reduced by mistake, the issue can be reported to the “Negative Records” page, and the staff will evaluate the situation. If a user’s score falls to 62, it will take either reporting 18 mis-parking of bicycles, or taking 18 normal rides to raise their score back to 80. If a user rides the bike out of the area of service, the price will increase to 100 yuan per 30 minutes, but the price will revert back if the user rides the bike back into the area of service.
Bike sharing has been very much promoted by the governments due to heavy smog in China. A lot of vehicles, 2 or 3 wheeled have been made electric but not everyone has the money or will to buy a luxury car.. you’ll just end up in a traffic jam and it will not make the time you need to get anywhere any shorter. The subway takes you to a lot of long distance places but even then… grabbing a bike to do that short distance is much better, it’s good for your health so why not. You see a lot of young people do it, aging between 15 to 40 years. Grabbing food during lunch break. The docking/parking places is most of the trouble though and China really has to work on this and they absolutely will, Bicycle Sharing will not just disappear.
but I liked the idea and I’m excited for the bikes in The Netherlands though I feel like it might not be used so much and I hope that also here the docking/parking problems will be solved because I’ve been seeing them all over Rotterdam.
How about you? Would you try them out?
I’d like to know what you think about it, will you tell us in the comments or on Facebook?
Pictures: made by Saetori