Kids are the new target in China’s bike-sharing mania
China’s bike-sharing madness has gone from boom to bust in just two years, leaving streets and rivers clogged with unused bicycles. With only a handful of big players left, the contest has largely wound down to a war of attrition: Most companies now let users rent bikes without paying any deposits.
While most aspiring entrepreneurs might now see bike-sharing as a minefield to avoid, a few others have decided to jump in by reaching out to a new demographic: Preschoolers.
Chinese media report that kiddie bikes are popping up in neighborhoods around the eastern city of Jinan. Fitted with training wheels, a front-basket and a bicycle bell, each bike costs around 2 yuan (US$0.3) to rent for a 30-minute ride.
Parents scan a QR code on the bike and pay via an app. No deposits are required. But unlike most regular bike-sharing services, the kiddie bikes can only be picked up and dropped off at specific docking areas -- all located within gated communities.
But with adult bike-sharing running into plenty of problems ranging from theft to vandalism, skeptics aren’t sure that kiddie bike-sharing will be any different.
One Weibo user thinks it could even be worse: “For people who are used to stealing bikes, this size should be even more convenient for them.”
A few users wondered, somewhat sarcastically, whether it’s time for sharing businesses to target the graying population, with some suggesting wheelchair-sharing as a possible idea.
It'd be funny, except it’s actually already been done: A number of hospitals in China are now offering rental wheelchairs through mobile apps.