Millions of dockless bikes are taking cars off the street, says Chinese government

According to China’s vice transport minister riders using dockless bikes have reduced car journeys worth $2.6 billion in hours lost to congestion. 

This tallies with reports from Asian financial analysts that China’s bike-share boom is reducing car use in cities and even leading to forecasts that less fossil fuel will be burned in the future. 

Release-by-app GPS-trackable modem-equipped dockless bike share bikes are cheap and simple to use, attracting newbies to cycling, some of them getting out of cars.

Liu Xiaoming, vice minister of the Ministry of Transportation, made the comments about dockless bikes in a speech on Saturday.

There are more than 23 million dockless, or "free floating," bike-share bicycles in Chinese cities. There were next to none three years ago. There are multiple Asian operators aiming to take their slice of the growing pie, but two stand out: Mobike and Ofo. Both are now also scaling up in the US and Europe.

Demand for car use and fossil fuels is expected to stagnate by 2025, reports Reuters. This is mostly down to the emergence of electric cars and improved public transport, but the "last mile" efficiencies of bike-share bikes is getting them noticed by analysts.

China’s petrol demand is expected to peak as early as 2025, according to state-owned China National Petroleum Corp.

"There used to be long queues of taxis waiting for customers outside train stations, but I don’t see them anymore," said a Beijing analyst, who took part in a Reuters survey of bike-share users.

A report from Shenzhen’s Transport Commission said that the city’s 500,000 bike-share bikes had replaced nearly 10 percent of travel by private car, and 13 percent of petrol consumption.

"If a stronger state push to reduce carbon intensity and improve air quality translates to more drivers replacing shorter-distance driving with bike rides" then China’s bike-sharing boom could lead to a signifgicant dent in petrol consumption said Peter Lee, an oil and gas analyst at BMI research.

Mobike and Ofo have attracted combined funding of more than $2 billion from venture capital and IT-specific private equity firms.

Liu said that, last year, China had 77 dockless firms but that this had now reduced to 57 companies after closures, including that of Bluegogo, the third largest of China’s dockless firms.

Last year, the CEO of Urbo, a Dublin-based dockless bike-share company, told BikeBiz that the sector has the potential to shake up the cycle industry, transform urban transport and, ultimately, reshape cities. 

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