After a huge bikeshare boom in China that left many start-ups bust and millions of bikes dumped in landfills, Hellobike emerged out the other side and are a rare story of success... now they're helping citizens to keep moving as the state emerges from lockdown, with new technology on their e-bike models that can help riders to maintain social distancing.
Hellobike boast of 300 million registered users and over 18 billion kilometres ridden since they were founded, and the newest version of their Yunqi e-bike comes with a smart voice system that is activated when users are about to miss a parking spot.
As China comes out of lockdown from the coronavirus pandemic, many residents are reportedly using e-bikes to keep safe distances from others in urban areas. The integrated Beidou satellite navigation system has a chipset that has precise navigation and positioning, and along with GPS and WiFi users can pick the safest routes or their trip - Yunqi is the first e-bike to feature the Beidou navigation service.
Other useful functions include automatic disabling of the unlock function when the battery charge is below 30%, which reduces the risk of the bike malfunctioning due to vandalism.
Hellobike's co-founder and president Li Kaizhu commented: “Shared modes of travel, along with advancing technology and online platforms, have reshaped travel habits in China. Shared two-wheelers ease traffic congestion and take the pressure off public transportation, providing users with a convenient way to get from subway stations to their offices.
"However, shared e-bike businesses still face the problems of bike maintenance, limited parking. Efficient battery swapping is a challenge for e-bike providers."
Should bikeshare firms in Europe look at similar technologies to keep us moving when the lockdown lifts?