Sharing electric bikes launch in Mapo, Sinchon

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Sharing electric bikes launch in Mapo, Sinchon

Sharing bicycles have finally come to Seoul.

Bike-sharing app Elecle officially launched Wednesday, allowing users to search and borrow electric bicycles in Mapo District and the area around Sinchon Station, both in western Seoul.

Elecle received investment from Socar, Korea’s largest car sharing app, last month and is Socar’s third “mobility” service alongside Tada, a van-hailing service operated by Socar subsidiary VCNC.

The bike-sharing service had a test run last November in Sangam-dong in Mapo District, western Seoul. During the first three weeks, 70 percent of users came back to reuse the service, according to the company.

As well as money, Socar, operator of one of Korea’s largest car-sharing services, also shared the knowledge that it had accumulated managing its network of vehicles across the country with the bike-sharing start-up.

Mapo District was selected as the test bed as it has a well-established culture of bike-riding, the company explained. It has the highest usage rate for Ttareungi, the Seoul Metropolitan government’s bike rental service, and is one of the only parts of the city with dedicating bike lanes.

“What’s meaningful is that we’re launching our business closer to the city’s center where mobility demand is most concentrated in the country,” said Bae Ji-hoon, CEO of Nine2one, Elecle’s operator.

The plan is to expand serviced areas to all of Seoul by this year’s first half. Areas near universities where there is high demand for short-distance travel will be set up first. Launches near Seoul National University and Korea University are planned for May.The start-up is also in talks with regional governments in Hanam and Incheon, Gyeonggi, and Sejong to introduce its electric bike-sharing service.

To borrow the bikes, users have to scan a QR code on the bike through Elecle’s mobile app. After use, bikes must be returned to designated parking spots. The first five minutes of use will cost 500 won ($0.44) and every minute after that will cost an additional 100 won.

App users will be required to register a credit card in advance so that payments can be processed automatically when the bike is returned.

Bikes are emerging as the next sharing mobility solution and IT companies have been quick to invest. In March, Kakao launched a beta service of its Kakao T Bike in Incheon and Seongnam, Gyeonggi.

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