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Sharing bikes, shifting minds

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Written by: Carole Ten, Winnie FENG, Chester LIN
Photo by:the Internet
Edited by:James Campion, WANG Zijin |  Date:2017/03/30388 Hits

You must have seen them on campus, at the bus stops and just outside the metro stations. And you must have seen a lot of people riding them around the city, dashing to their destinations on weekdays and swishing through the quaint streets at weekends – ladies and gentlemen, let me present to you the SHARING BIKES!

 

The ofo bike

 

The mobike

 

  • How to use a sharing bike

 

The very first step of using a sharing bike is to download their apps and to subscribe to their Official Account in WeChat, for the requirement of different platforms suit only their own bikes. Then, create your own account and make a deposit through Alipay or WeChat Pay, which cost 299 (mobike) or 99 (ofo). Don’t forget to top it up. Next comes the process of realnameauthentication, which is intended to prevent the bike from being stolen or deliberately damaged.

 

Since mobike and ofo are the most popular brands for the time being, and the locks on their bikes are of two kinds, we find it necessary to introduce the two different ways of unlocking the bikes to you.

 

If you use mobike, simply scan the QR Code and you are good to go. This is because a patent mobike applied for contains a high-tech chip, circuit board, Internet protocol, GPS and SM card. All of these components contribute to the convenience of locating the bike.

 

If you are a fan of ofo, then another set of rules apply to it. Unlike scanning the QR Code printed on the bike, ofo requires you to input the one-and-only number of each bike in order to get a changing password with which you open the specially-designed lock.

 

  • Why are the sharing bikes so popular in China?

 

Systems of location and online payment in the apps are widely applied today. Users of sharing bikes may conveniently find the bikes nearby and complete their payment online. The mobike app can help users locate the bikes accurately, while that ofo can only show how many bikes are nearby. By using Alipay or WeChat Pay, people can pay the deposit and top up the account in advance so as to pay more easily after using.

 

People greatly demand a means of transport for the intervals between buses and metros. With sharing bikes, commuters spend less time walking to different stops and stations, while holiday-goers have another choice to explore the nature in a new way: riding. What’s more, the urban population here is dense, which makes the market of the sharing bikes even bigger.

 

Sharing bikes help reduce the carbon foot-print. If more people have such a greener choice to go around the city, they may suffer less from traffic jams and the emission of CO2. While riding bikes, they exercise and contribute their part to saving the environment. China has promised to reduce carbon emissions at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015, and developing sharing bikes is of help in this light.

 

Sharing bikes evoke nostalgia. Because of sharing bikes, more and more Chinese ride on the streets, which reminds a generation of their life in the 70s. At that time, a family being able to afford a bike would be considered well-off. In the 80s, bikes became less expensive, and the young could afford one on their own. Some middle-aged people still recall their sweet childhood riding bikes with their parents and their youth riding bikes with their beloved.

 

People riding on the street in the 80s

 

A baby on a bike with his/her family

 

  • Problems

 

Bike-sharing is sweeping through China, but as it has grown, numerous problems have arisen.

 

Some people just leave the bikes anywhere they want, ignoring the fact that they may cause an obstruction. Quite a few bikes have been parked on the pavement, the passageway and even in front of the fire engine access. Their inconsiderate parking has caused much inconvenience to others.

 

A few bikes are abandoned, with their tires burst or their bicycle cushions broken; a few are locked by private locks as if they were not public sharing bicycles, and a few are even glued with fake paying codes by fraudsters so that people will pay falsely to them instead of the bicycle-sharing company.

 

The service also aroused public safety concerns as to whether children under 12 are still too young for sharing bicycles. The students whose parents are too busy to pick them up from school choose to “make the best of” sharing bicycles and ride home on their own.

 

These burning issues require the cooperation of the government, bike-sharing companies and every citizen. The government should establish proper bicycle lanes and ensure bicycles are placed in the right spots. User rules need to be improved and strengthened by the companies, which can prevent fraudsters from cheating. Moreover, users ought to learn better about all rules, putting safety in first place.

 

  • Reporting Bike Problems

 

Though the problems mentioned are somehow inevitable, there is still something more users can do to help.

 

Bikes of both companies have the systems for users to report bike problems. Opening the app, clicking on the icon, and the users can finish reporting the problem within a minute. This is because the common problems are already listed on a page in the apps. The companies also encourage the users to report wrong parking cases with photos. The more information provided, the easier it is for the staff to repair and replace the bikes.

 

In addition, mobike built a credit system in its app, allowing any wrong parking behaviors and reporting to be rewarded. The company hopes to promote civilized riding behaviors among the society in this way.

 

Reporting problems on the mobike app

 

The sharing bike is mind-shifting. It is a product of the sharing economy booming in China, and it also utilizes the advantages of the Internet. It is nice and simple, yet it changes so many people’s lives, and even their behaviors, for the better.