Bike-sharing revolution aims to put China back on two wheels

Even through Beijing’s nicotine-tinged smog you can make out the multi-coloured frames, gliding through the pea soup towards a greener future.

In recent months an unmissable fleet of fluorescent orange, canary yellow and ocean blue bicycles has hit the streets of urban China as part of a hi-tech bike-sharing boom that entrepreneurs hope will make them rich while simultaneously transforming the country’s traffic-clogged cities.

“We want to solve problems by getting bikes back on to the streets of our cities,” said Li Zekun, the 25-year-old marketing director of Ofo, one of the startups spearheading this 21st-century transport revolution.

From Shanghai to Sichuan province, bike-sharing schemes are being rolled out on an unprecedented scale in an effort to slash congestion and air pollution by putting a country once known as the “Kingdom of Bicycles” back on two wheels.

Ofo, so named because of the word’s resemblance to a bicycle, has put about 250,000 of its bright yellow bikes to work since late 2015, of which around 40,000-50,000 are in the capital, according to Li.

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