Bike Sharing is Now a Thing in North Korea

By Matthew Bossons, June 26, 2017

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Over the past year and a bit, the streets of major Chinese cities have been flooded with a sea of orange, yellow, green, blue and, most recently, rainbow-colored shared bikes. The bike sharing revolution has also been exported outside the Middle Kingdom’s borders, perhaps most surprisingly to Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea.

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Images provided to us by Simon Cockerell, the general manager at Koryo Tours, show green and yellow bicycles parked in docking stations similar to the type that still line roadsides in China, but which became obsolete after the advent of Mobike and Ofo.

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The DPRK official heading the bike-sharing program reportedly said that Pyongyang’s main roadways will all be equipped with bike stations “in the near future,” according to China Global Television Network (CGTN). The first 50 bike racks will be positioned close to bus and subway stations.

The shared bikes are intended “to provide convenience for citizens’ transportation.”

Bike-Sharing-is-Now-a-Thing-in-North-Korea-3.jpgTo use the bikes, commuters must input passwords on a 10-digit, four-letter keypad

While it has yet to be announced exactly how bike rentals will be paid for, Cockerell told That’s payments will likely be made with cash or via a prepaid card – the likes of which are already in use on Pyongyang’s metro.

“It will be cash, there is no Alipay or WeChat wallet in North Korea,” said Cockerell. “Although, preloaded transportation cards are already available – so it could be done that way.”

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A Pyongyang metro card

When asked if the shared bikes will be available to foreigners visiting the country, Cockerell had this to say: 

“Nobody is sure at the moment and I would think no at first. I don’t think tourists are going to be allowed to use them for awhile. Local foreigners that work in NGOs, maybe.”

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Bicycles are one of Pyongyang’s most popular forms of transportation. They are also a target for theft during times of economic difficulty, which could be the case now after petrol prices more than tripled last month.

Click here to read about a day in the life of a Guangzhou shared bike mover. 

[Images via Simon Cockerell]

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