In a nation once renowned for its active bicycle culture, three young startups have given renewed rise to cycling in China’s major urban centers. Among several bicycle sharing programs and government efforts to encourage increasing bicycle use—such as London’s bicycle sharing program, Paris’s Velib, or Helsinki’s 2016-launched cycle sharing program —Beijing-based Ofo, launched in 2014, Mobike established earlier in 2016 in Shanghai, and recent upstart Bluegogo, which aims to challenge the more-established market players starting in Shenzhen and Guangzhou offer urban commuters a convenient alternative for short trips. Utilizing smart-enabled technologies, such as Ofo’s smartphone operated locks or Mobike’s GPS positioning, the companies offer rental bicycles at stations spread across the cities and are in a process of ambitious expansion, rapidly increasing the number of bicycles available in individual cities as well as expanding to new markets.

Supported by several major corporations, Ofo has received funding from transportation giant Didi Chuxing while Mobike has the backing of Tencent and Bluegogo was founded by smart bike manufacturer SpeedX, these companies are driving a fast-rising industry in China—receiving several hundred million dollars in funding and operating in major urban centers like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen, covering an estimated 74 million potential users across the three. Now setting their sights on expanding beyond China’s borders, Ofo looking to the US and UK, and fielding growing competition from a burgeoning market of competitors, the trend shows little sign of slowing and holds considerable promise for reducing transport-based emissions in some of the world’s most pollution-congested urban environments.

China Daily studies market, noting opportunities and risks 

China Daily introduces new upstart Bluegogo 

Bloomberg Technology offers an overview of the major players 

South China Morning Post profiles Mobike 

South China Morning Post reports on foreign expansion goals 

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