Innovation That Matters

In Shanghai, Uber for bikesharing lets cyclists drop off anywhere

Travel & Tourism

Mobike enables users to rent nearby bikes, and unlock with a QR code for RMB 1 per 30 minutes.

The Parisian Vélib’, London’s “Boris Bikes” and New York’s Citi Bikes: municipal bicycle sharing systems are nothing new. In fact, the number of cities worldwide offering such services is edging up towards a thousand. But the aforementioned schemes all have one fundamental drawback — the freedom of the vehicles are undermined by the need to return it to a set location.

Now, a system in Shanghai is offering riders the chance to lock and leave bikes anywhere they choose. Founded by former Uber employee Davis Wang, Mobike takes advantage of technology to enable free cruising. Like Uber, Mobike works through an app, on which riders can find and book nearby bikes. Once located, bikes are unlocked with a QR code, and the journey comes to an end when the lock is attached once more. As well as providing high levels of functionality, the app comes with a nice add-on in the form of a health tracker, giving riders information on how far they’ve travelled and the calories burned en route.



Similar to other hire schemes, users have to pay a one-off deposit to use the service — in this case RMB 299 (USD 44.7). The service itself is cheap, at RMB 1 (about USD 0.15) for every 30 minutes the bike is in use.

With 10,000 Mobike bicycles already on the streets of Shanghai, the startup’s smart tech could see them disrupting a saturated cycle-hire market. How else can bikesharing services be made more convenient?



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