Bike sharing in the States works by taking a bike from a permanent station and then parking that bike at only another approved station. Bikes in China (introduced spring 2017) work where you can just leave a bike wherever you want. This seems like it would lead to chaos, but has so far worked pretty organically.
People take bikes to popular places (malls, schools, ports) and so when people go there, they park them outside, and people leaving have a readily available, steady supply. If you go somewhere where there’s not many people, well nobody is likely to take your bike leaving you stranded. It just kinda…works.
The point here is that even the shared bikes here all use QR codes. You just use AliPay, scan the bike, it unlocks and you can use it for 15 cents for every 30 minutes. It’s super cheap and the companies make money by selling the data. However, in recent days, it’s come to light that maybe, just maybe, it isn’t all roses. The market may have over expanded, but it still seems viable, at least from popular demand. It needs some ironing out.
Shared bikes have become engrained in the communities too, as they have in Europe. People speak of them as a genuinely useful, everyday means of travel or exercise. They are relied on for transportation, rather than being a novelty or after thought the way they appear in New York.
It’s good for the environment, convenient for the customer, and ostensibly lucrative for businesses. It’s win-win-win. (maybe.)
Let me know what you think about Chinese bike sharing in the comments below!