Opinion / Huang Xiangyang

Mobikes a small price to pay for clean and green travel

By Huang Xiangyang (China Daily) Updated: 2016-10-21 09:22

It took me several minutes to download the app and register after scanning the quick response code on the middle part of the handlebars. I had to provide my personal information such as name, ID card number and mobile phone number, as well as a 299 yuan security deposit-refundable after the ride-which I paid using my WeChat account.

Then it was time to ride. For years, I had lost my interest in riding a bicycle after having losing several to thieves, with my last one stolen just days after the purchase 11 years ago.

I don't know whether the fact that it is now safe to leave such a fancy bike on the street is made possible by the nation's growing material prosperity, improved law enforcement or technological advancement. But, what a sea change it has been compared with the era decades ago when a bicycle was considered a family luxury in the country, just like private cars nowadays.

So I was happy to relive the enjoyable experience of yesteryear. The seat is unadjustable, and the bicycle is a little too heavy compared with a common one. I found out later it is designed to generate power throughout the ride to keep its "smart" system running.

Still, I enjoyed the ride, feeling rewarded not only by honest sweat, but also by helping to curb climate change. After I locked the bicycle upon arrival, the app showed that I had consumed 100 calories and saved several hundred grams of carbon emissions.

My first ride was fee-free, and fees for later uses are paid through my WeChat account.

So how could the company behind the service make a profit? Mobike has reportedly put several thousand bicycles on the streets in Beijing and is ready to provide more to cultivate a green commuting culture.

It is estimated that if one Mobike is used 8 times per day, it can recoup its 3,000 yuan cost in one year. After that, it brings in profit.

Given the huge user base in the "kingdom of bicycles" and growing demand for a green life style, the business prospect should be rosy, so long as the Mobikes do not end up in the hands of thieves.

Contact the writer at huang-xiangyang@chinadaily.com.cn

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