Chinese bike-sharing giant Mobike launched its service in Washington D.C.on Wednesday, marking its U.S. debut amid a rapid global expansion.
"We are thrilled to call Washington D.C. Mobile's first home in North America," Hu Weiwei, the company's CEO, said in a statement.
Mobike's distinctive silver and orange bikes will be initially deployed at downtown locations such as D.C. Metro station, university campuses and public parks.
Users could use the mobile app to register for Mobike's service and then locate the nearest available bike thanks to its built-in GPS functionality.
After registration, cyclists could unlock a bike for a ride after scanning the QR code on the bike's body.
The dockless system allows Mobike customers to park the self-lock bike anywhere it's legal for bike parking when finishing the ride, different from service provided by other D.C. bike-sharing programs, including Capital Bikeshare that uses racks to park bikes.
Mobike charges 1 U.S. dollar for a 30-minute ride and payment is made electronically.
The brightly colored bikes feature chainless shaft transmission, non-puncture airless tires, a lightweight aluminum anti-rust frame, and enhanced disk-brakes in a bid to be fix-free for up to four years.
Besides, changes were made to bikes serving D.C., including the shape of the bike itself and the addition of several gears.
"Mobike is committed to developing a global bike share culture by collaborating closely with cities, and the U.S. capital is key in achieving this," Hu said.
D.C. officials said they welcomed Mobike as the city's first dockless bike share program.
Officially launching its service in Shanghai in April last year, Mobike has since expanded its presence to 180 cities, including some in Thailand, Malaysia and the United Kingdom.
The company said it now operates more than 5 million smart bikes and support over 20 million rides every day.
Mobike's U.S. debut came after Ofo, its biggest Chinese rival, launched service in the U.S. city of Seattle with 1,000 bicycles for rent at 1 dollar per hour, as they are racing to grab shares of the global market.