You are looking for an eco friendly way to travel? Or maybe want the fastest short distance commuting system? Or did the train leave you a bit too far from your destination to walk but too close to call a taxi? Look no further, bike sharing is for you. It is very cheap, available everywhere and super easy to use. It is also possibly my favorite thing in Shanghai and something I have never seen (at least at that scale) in any other cities I have lived in.
Many companies have appeared and disappeared over the past year and at the moment, the main one still reliable is Mobike. However, more and more white/blue bikes from Hellobike (backed by Alibaba) are also available.
Mobike (摩拜单车 [Móbāi Dānchē]) is one of the main two companies in Shanghai with Hellobikes. Their orange and silver bikes are easy to spot and available all over the city. It is rare to see a street without any of their bikes. It is believed that Mobike is, by the number of bikes, the world’s largest shared bicycle operator.
The process to get a bike is very easy.
Install the App (it is in English) on your mobile device and crate an account, pay a 299RMB refundable deposit, follow the process of sending one picture of your passport and another one of you holding your passport.
Once your account is created (only takes a few minutes), you scan the QR code that is on every bike, the bike unlocks itself automatically, you ride it to your destination, lock it, and walk away. You need to park them at the dedicated areas but there are bicycle parking on almost every sidewalk.
At the moment we write this post, a Mobike ride costs 1 rmb but you often get offers for unlimited rides for 1 rmb or so per month, so it is practically free.
Mobike has partnered with WeChat so you can also use the WeChat app to unlock their bikes.
Hellobike is the new kid on the block. Their white and blue bikes are getting more and more available and tend to slowly replace the Mobike ones. The company is backed by Alibaba and has been, until now, more available in secondary cities. After OFO disappeared, Hellobike is now looking at the bigger cities and is getting bigger in Shanghai. You can use your Alipay app to hire them and they work the same way as Mobike. The app is however not available in English as we write this article.
OFO is no longer available in Shanghai. If you are a user, there are still some bikes here and there that can be used but not many anymore.
The main problem is that many users who have paid a deposit have never been reimbursed. Many claims have been made to the police but the situation doesn’t seem to have changed.
The XiangQi eBike (享骑电单车) green electric bicycles are no longer available in Shanghai.