It’s common knowledge that most major cities have a cycling system and some kind of bike sharing in place. Even though I have been to London several times, I have never felt the urge to use their ‘Boris Bikes’ and I didn’t really feel that I would here in China but I was so wrong. I just wish I hadn’t waited 4 months before trying it out!
Before moving to China I was researching what life is like here. This was when I came across two of my, now favourite, travel vloggers, Where’s Poppy and Travel Light. If you are thinking of moving to Shenzhen, or China in general, their videos are a must watch. I used to watch them religiously and it might sound silly, but it really helped me to get to know the city. It was through their videos that I was introduced to the dockless cycling system in Shenzhen. So, in London we have Borris Bikes but I’ve not really heard too many good reviews on them. You have to pay a couple of quid to use them for half an hour and you have to return them to a dock. What if there isn’t a dock near where you are heading? What if you don’t want to sit on a seat that is covered in pigeon poo? It seems pretty limited in London.
So after watching these vlogs I was intrigued. I wasn’t going to have access to a car in China so public transport, walking and cycling were going to be vital. Although, after arriving in China I soon realised that the roads are a death trap. It’s a little different for me because I’m used to cars driving on the opposite side of the road and the British road system – which, I have come to realise, is pretty great. Everything about Chinese roads scare me – the amount of cars, the speed, the fact that there seems to be no traffic system AT ALL and cars regularly run red lights at pedestrian crossings. Luckily, it’s illegal in Shenzhen for cyclists to ride on the road, they have to use the footpaths, however this is equally as difficult and as dangerous to navigate. Now you have to deal with a mass of pedestrians and other bikes. It’s safe to say that within a day or two of arriving in China I had decided that I wasn’t going to be cycling any time soon.
I noticed the bikes as soon as I arrived in China, they were everywhere, I mean EVERYWHERE! They were on the side of the road in bushes, on driveways. There were streets full of them, thousands of bikes. It makes sense, due to the large volume of people in Shenzhen, the Chinese government have really pushed to encourage people to use eco friendly modes of transport. All the buses here are electric, as well as the metro, so it would also explain why there were so many bikes around. There were bikes of all different colours but the main ones are orange and yellow, Mo Bike and Ofo. I took the plunge and decided to. try out Mo Bike – they looked the prettiest so DUH!
As well as cycling in China being a death trap I also thought that it would be a rigmarole to set up. I’d heard people say that you need to put a large deposit down and send over copies of your passport. This immediately put me off! I’m not the most technologically advanced being in the world and it doesn’t take a lot to confuse me so the thought of setting up the app scared me a little. I really had nothing to worry about – it’s one of the simplest things to do. You fill in some basic details – connect the app to your WeChat, send a picture of yourself with your passport and then an individual photo of your passport (I only had to do this because I didn’t have a Chinese ID card). That’s it! That’s all you have to do and you’re ready to cycle.
The app shows Mo Bikes that are near to you and all you have to do it find one that looks decent (I’ve not had too many bad ones so far) and then scan the QR code, this unlocks the bike and you are free to go. It’s sets off a timer in the app and you are charged for the amount of time the bike is unlocked, not the distance travelled. The charge rate is 1RMB per every 30 minutes, this equates to approximately 10p per 30 minutes, which, when you compare it to the London prices, is mad!
So after getting the app – I did it! I cycled to the gym. Not too long of a journey but still long enough for me not to want to walk in the crazy humidity. It was amazing, and I really had nothing to worry about. I had already got used to having to dodge pedestrians and cyclists from walking practically everywhere so avoiding them on a bike was no different. The breeze made travelling so nice but it wasn’t enough to stop the sweat – nothing will ever stop the sweat in this heat! I looked like I had already done a full session at the gym by the time that I got there, but I would have looked that same if I had walked.
Now that I have used them once, I can’t stop! I have found the perfect way to get around the city and it’s so simple. Thanks Mo Bike – I’m a fan!