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My Bike?

Popularity 2Viewed 2446 times 2017-3-19 10:17 |Personal category:life|System category:Life| bike-sharing

My Bike?


Last weekend, I was hanging out in the downtown with my friend and sister. We were walking at a public spare when all of a sudden a heated arguing between a student and a middle-aged woman arrested our attention.


Out of curiosity, we all stopped to look around and found that they were arguing over an Ofo bike which recently got quite popular in this city along with two other bike-sharing companies including Mo-bike.


From what we observed, it seemed that the student saw two unoccupied bikes on the square and decided to peddle one away. But the woman claimed that she was asked to guard the two bikes for her friends and her friends were just away to the toilet. So the woman held the bike handle-bar and refused to let it go. She told the girl loudly that she had to call her friends first to check with them before agreeing to let go of the bike.


The student found this absurd and lashed out the woman by saying that "This is absurd. What is wrong with you? This is not a bike personally owned by you. This is supposed to be public facilities. You have absolute no right to keep it." After hearing this, the woman went mad and shouted that she was gonna slap the girl on her face if she talked to her like that ever again. The atmosphere got increasingly tense. Both parties seemed to be determined to win this. The student then apologized to the woman in a not so friendly tone and started trying to talk some sense into her and convinced her to let go of the bike.


When all this was happening, nobody seemed to want to intervene during the heat of the moment. In fact, there was a vacant bike lying a few meters away from them. We walked away before witnessing the end of this hassle.


While walking, we were discussing who was to blame. I personally understood why the girl was so angry, even though I might not agree with her taking out the anger on the woman in a public place which was only gonna make the woman less willing to budge. My friend and sister seemed to believe the girl should give up arguing with her and simply used the third bike lying around. They reckoned sometimes we simply can't win no matter how reasonable we may sound.


Bike-sharing service can   serve people very well considering that the underground system in this city is still under construction, which has to block many roads and worsen the already terrible traffic. So these bikes are welcome to the public considering that it can be very cheap. Furthermore, people are doing exercising while peddling and can do some contribution to environment protection. So this is more like shooting a few birds with one stone.


But the new bike-sharing fever is accompanied without problems. For a whole week, I kept seeing a Mo-bike at the front door of my neighbor's flat where it's never supposed to park. It was there every morning when I headed to my workplace and it was still there every night when I went back home. Of course, it may be not the same one.


Also, I have heard more than once from friends claiming that they would like to bike a persona lock or just take the bike home  who have been using the bike-sharing service. Apparently, with regard to this newly emergent vehicle, some people still haven't fully realized that it's illegal to do what mentioned above.


Of course, the government has realized this and some people have been warned or even suspended from their jobs by violating the rules regarding the use of these bikes. As this is still pretty new, both the public and the companies owning these bikes need time to adjust. But hopefully, more people in the near future will stop treating the public facilities like private possessions.


Aside from this problem, I really hope the government can make the roads in cities more bike-friendly. In my personal perspective, it's pretty risky to ride a bike in Chinese cities. Things are probably much better in some metropolises, but here in Changsha I don't really see separated bike lane. Even though some lanes are labeled as bike lane, they are most of the time unfortunately occupied by private vehicles or motorcycles. Having to watch out the traffic from all directions seems to be pretty common in this city. I have become accustomed to being very cautious when walking across a road. Even though there is traffic light everywhere, it's not safe.


It would be really nice to see China become a kingdom of bikes again. This will undoubtedly help address the urgent air pollution and meanwhile help improve the public health. But still a lot measures should be taken from both the government and the public before the desirable goals are achieved.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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Reply Report HailChina! 2017-3-20 07:43
Isnt bike sharing big business in China? And if so then how are the bike "public facilities"? Dont people have to pay a a deposit to be able to use the bikes? And then pay 15 cents an hour for them or something? And isnt it companies like Ofo that get all the profit? If there is so much money in bike sharing then I do not understand why the Chinese Government doesnt make the bikes themselves and use them to increase revenue. Where does all the profit come from anyway since it is so cheap to use the bikes anyway? I really dont understand where the profit comes from in the Chinese market. At only 15 cents to use the bike for an additional hour there cant be great profits in this industry in Chinese market -

------It’s difficult to overstate how popular these services have become. On almost every street corner in China’s major cities, bikes of different shapes, sizes, and colors are lined up next to one another.

Potholes ahead

All of these factors merely compound the stress placed on an already shaky business model. Mobike and its rivals won’t reveal how much their bikes cost to produce, but an old estimate (which Mobike says has since decreased) places the cost of a standard Mobike at 3,000 yuan (about $437). Professor Gillis says that fares alone will hardly recoup these costs in a timely manner—let alone cover labor and R&D expenses.

“They rent for one yuan every half hour, and they expect that they might be rented four times a day for a half hour, which amounts to four yuan per day,” he tells Quartz. “If you take four yuan per day and you take that into the 3,000 yuan, you’ve got a long time before you’ve recovered the cost of a bike.
- quartz

Yes I am correct. There is not a lot of profit in bike sharing in the Chinese market. Any fool could work that out. Plus it is not just the cost of the bike that must be recovered but bikes also need to be maintained/repaired etc and the Chinese Government is allowing these companies to cut overhead costs by allowing this 'park anywhere' policy and allowing the companies to rely on 'volunteers' to report bikes that have been parked and left in idiotic places, but the companies still have to pay 'in house teams' to go and pick these discarded bikes up, which also adds to overheads.

The one to blame for the scenario you describe is the Chinese Government for allowing this 'park anywhere' policy which is utterly ridiculous, and for not making sure that bike sharing rules are clear and easy to understand, and for not making penalties severe enough to deter the public from abusing the bike sharing initiative. People should not be able to park where ever they please and consumers should not be able to pick up some random discarded bike because that system is very stupid and chaotic. Bike sharing users should have to pick up a bike at a bike sharing station and they should have to return the bike to a bike sharing station - but that wont work will it because the 'start ups' that are leading this big new industry that makes little profit cannot afford to employ enough stations at enough locations to make bike sharing convenient. A solution to that might be for users themselves to have to pay extra for a member of the bike sharing companies 'in-house team' to come and pick the bike up and return it to a bike sharing station where it belongs. Bike pick-up could even become an industry in itself.

The fact is that bike sharing is a very stupid idea and China should forget it. If people want to ride a bike then let them buy a bike. If bike sharing really is so profitable then let the industry support itself rather than rely on corporate welfare from the state and favourable laws/regulations that make things easy for the industry leaders.

Having bikes left all over the place is every bit as bad as shopping trolleys being left all over the place. It is the same problem. In Australia we have council fines for taking shopping trolleys because discarded shopping trolleys look terrible and messy. Supermarkets like Aldi make you pay a deposit to be able to use their trolley and you have to return it to get your deposit back. Chinese bike sharing needs to get rid of the 'park anywhere' policy and make companies put in place penalties for unreturned bikes/require larger deposits. The Chinese Government needs to fine bike users that do not return bikes to bike sharing stations.

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