Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development
Once upon a time, Beijing was known to be a city of bicycles. But that was many years back.
However, recent months have witnessed something unprecedented on the roads in Beijing - hundreds of yellow and orange bicycles.
The bicycles belong to the two biggest bike-sharing start-ups in China: Ofo and Mobike. Users can just download an app, make a deposit, find an available bike using the app's GPS system and drop them off anywhere after using them.
Why I am mentioning this is because logistics is a big issue for foreigners living in Beijing. Like me, many foreigners do not drive in China for different reasons. For me, driving on Beijing's roads is not a pleasant experience. I am also afraid that if my vehicle kisses another one by chance, I can't even fight with the other vehicle owner considering my poor Chinese.
Car-hailing services are only in Chinese, and speaking to the driver to tell them your location is a challenge. Moreover, regular metered taxis are difficult to get during peak hours, and some of them refuse to pick up foreigners. You must have done some really good deeds in a past life to get a metered taxi after 9 pm in Sanlitun and other areas.
The alternative is either illegal taxis that can charge up to five times the regular price or an unsafe three-wheeled contraption that smells of kerosene and can break down halfway.
I have used them all. Unscrupulous taxi drivers have cheated me at least three times with fake currency. So, these bike-sharing apps are a great innovation for people like me. It would also be great for foreign tourists to explore Beijing on these bikes during spring and summer.
I have heard that after use, the bikes are parked shoddily. There are even reports of people damaging the bikes. It is also alleged that the new service has eaten away the income of taxi drivers and parking lot owners and that they might be partaking in sabotage of some kind.
But the two companies have become more vigilant now. I have even seen some company personnel out on patrols.
I hope that people will ride the bikes responsibly and not abuse this cheap and convenient mode of transport and force the service to be withdrawn in future.
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