It’s Uber…but for bicycles: The American on-demand leader takes a page from China | Business News | SupChina

It’s Uber…but for bicycles: The American on-demand leader takes a page from China

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The company that invented and exported much of the “sharing economy” business model of the past decade now finds itself a follower in a variation of that model. Uber announced on January 31 that it would finally test dockless bicycles, starting in San Francisco, Quartz reports.

  • Uber is over a year late to the dockless bikes party, because starting in 2016 and throughout 2017, Chinese cities flooded with the technology. Some Chinese companies even started testing in American cities last year.
  • Even Uber’s Chinese rival in ride-sharing, Didi Chuxing, expanded into dockless bicycles a month ago.
  • “It’s not clear if dockless bike-sharing is a winning business model, given the slim margins and logistical headaches. But to some degree, Didi and Uber’s near-simultaneous entry into the sector validates the trend,” Quartz writes.
  • One thing Uber is doing differently: The 250 bikes it is renting out are “pedal-assist electric bicycles,” which make it “easier to tackle San Francisco’s steep hills,” the New York Times notes (paywall).

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Lucas Niewenhuis

Lucas Niewenhuis is an associate editor at SupChina who helps curate daily news and produce the company's newsletter, app, and website content. Previously, Lucas researched China-Africa relations at the Social Science Research Council and interned at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He has studied Chinese language and culture in Shanghai and Beijing, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.