Last week found Steve and I in Luoyang for International Labor Day, May 1st, where we celebrated the holiday by visiting a long-lost friend of Steve’s. Internet access was then, and still is, even spottier than usual for me, making posting this blog not a sure thing at all.
One thing I noticed this time in Luoyang (my first time there was four years ago) was the number and variety of bike shares. Luoyang’s population is around four times that of Zhoukou’s, so certainly there are more bikes, but I counted four different dockless companies besides the municipal docked bike share. By far the most plentiful was hellobike, the same as what we have here. They seemed to be used proportionally even more than in Zhoukou. At times they even seemed to outnumber the scooters! We would have liked to have added to the number of happy riders, but our friend doesn’t ride, we didn’t have the app, and were not traveling with anyone who could have set it up for us. It takes longer for foreigners to sign up because we don’t have national ID card numbers. If you’re thinking of traveling to a foreign country and using the bike share, enlist some local help to navigate the app right away. It may take a day to get it set up, using your passport number, as we found in Shanghai. Once you have the app though, you should be able to use it in any city the bike is available, after paying a deposit on-line.
Back in Zhoukou, I found that hellobike e-bikes have been added to the mix. I hope this doesn’t mean the students will be using them instead of bicycling. They surely will have to pay more to use the e-bikes, and I have no idea how they will keep them charged. The current Zee-bike scooter share doesn’t seem to be very popular, and I don’t know if it’s because of the higher cost or some other reason. The front baskets of the new e-bikes are smaller, plastic, and look flimsy, which may cut down on them being used to carry passengers. I’ve seen toddlers up to college students riding in the wire handlebar baskets. I don’t know if the e-bikes will be ditched just anywhere, as currently happens with the bikeshares. This is the biggest complaint I’ve heard so far about share bikes.
Apart from these developments, bicycling here these last two weeks has mainly been lovely. It’s included another ride out past XiangCheng to see if the museum renovation of (historical villain)Yuan Shikai’s birthplace is finished (it isn’t, but the highway spur is), and back to DanChang, where there is supposed to be a Mao Ze Dong medal museum (I didn’t find it).
Garlic harvest is in full swing, perfuming the country air. Yesterday’s planned ride back to Tai Kang was a washout, literally, as it rained all day. I did get in a ride earlier with a student, a native of Zhoukou who I’ve taken to see things she never knew existed in her city. Bicycles are good for that.