Mobike, bicycle barons from Shanghai, just scattered an enormous fleet of 1RMB-per-half-hour hire bikes across Beijing. You've probably seen them already – all orange and silver-slick, idling curbside on a Ring Road like yesterday's getaway vehicle.
There's one now.
A hand locates a Mobike using an 'app'
In a timely usurping of the Government-run alternative, Mobike lets you – nay, encourages you to – leave your bike wherever your journey ends (so long as that place is on a footpath), which means no more searching for pesky, hard-to-find depots. There, the bikes are left to be found by other folks in search of a Mobike, who then begin their own special journey. The lion becomes
the grass, the antelope eats the grass and so on. It's very good for the community.
1. Once you've downloaded the app, after you swipe pass the short introductory guide, you'll get to this page where the GPS locates your current position and scans to see if there are any bikes in the area. If there are any, orange bike icons will pop up all over the screen.
2. Click on the orange icon that's most convenient for you (in this case we are presented with a cluster of options, so any will do) and the app will calculate the distance of the bike from your current location and give you details such as the number of bikes at that point and the time needed for you to travel to get to the bike.
3. Before you secure your bike, you'll be prompted to create an account and sign in. It's fairly simple but for foreigners without a Chinese ID there's an extra step (see below). Key in your phone number and subsequently the PIN is sent to your phone.
4. Although part of Mobike's hype is the very affordable 1RMB per half-hour bike rental, you have to pay a deposit of 299RMB either via WeChat or Alipay complete registration. The deposit is refundable, although it will take up to one-to-five working days for it to be processed after you request a refund.
5. To register, you need to send in two different images – one of the photo page of your passport, one of you smiling and holding said photo page so it's visible in the picture. Mobike promise to complete your registration within 24 hours, so plan ahead if it's your first time.
Once all the steps are completed, you can proceed to pick up your bike. All you need do is scan the QR code and sod off into the sunset.