This Chinese 'Uber for Bikes' App is Taking Over SXSW

By Connor Frankhouser, March 15, 2017

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Chinese bike sharing giant Ofo has beaten rival Mobike — and the rest of the China’s bike sharing companies — to US soil, giving Americans a taste of the dockless bike sharing platform that is sweeping the nation. 

Revelers at the famous South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas can ride the ubiquitous yellow bikes from one SXSW concert site to the next until the event wraps up on March 19.

SXSW Ofo Bike

The festival, which runs for a week each March, has seen a surge in attendees since the mid-2000s, joining Coachella and Lollapalooza in the top echelon of the American festival scene. Heck, Barack Obama even gave a speech there in 2016. The festival is inexorably intertwined with Twitter, a relative unknown until making a big splash at the 2007 edition of SXSW.

SXSW attendees can get a dose of the daily life of many commuters in China by downloading the Ofo app, riding and docking the bikes anywhere they please in Austin. 

According to People's Daily, an Ofo spokesperson said company is in talks to negotiate "further cooperation” with the city and perhaps get Ofo bikes on the streets of Austin on a more permanent basis. Ofo is also planning a trial rollout of its bikes in California and hopes to expand to over 10 countries in 2017.

READ MORE: Inside China's Booming Bike-Sharing Plants: 16 Bikes Every 10 Minutes

Initial social media buzz out of the notoriously forward thinking and liberal enclave of Austin has been, positive with many Twitter and Facebook users posting pictures with the yellow bikes, enamored at a novelty that has all but worn off in the Chinese mainland. 

SXSW Attendees with Mobikes

SXSW Attendees with Mobikes

Time will tell if dockless bike sharing ran by third-party companies will be a viable arrangement in the US. Look for the idea to hit a major snag if parking issues with the bike that plague cities like Shanghai and Shenzhen surface in the States.

[Images via People's Daily]

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