Bike sharing becomes new way of transport, exercise in Thailand's Phuket
Since Chinese bike sharing company ofo launched its service in the Thai resort island of Phuket, smart bikes have become a new alternative of transport and also exercise for both locals and tourists.
On a narrow road between colorful verandas at the Old Town of Phuket, Thai students were seen riding yellow bikes with cars and motorcycles beside them at about 5:00pm local time on Friday, when the daily scorching heat in Southeast Asia began to fade.
A group of four Chinese tourists also found ofo bikes here and used their app to unlock them and rode them away. "It is so convenient to find these smart bikes here," one of them said.
The Chinese bike sharing company ofo launched its bike-sharing service in Phuket with 1,000 smart lock bikes on September 20.
From October 1, users in Phuket can enjoy one-month free trial without deposit fee.
Tong, a Thai student who enjoys bicycle ride, unlocked a ofo bike successfully with the help of a ofo staff member on Friday.
"I love it, not so many people know about bike sharing now but we can already find many riding these bikes so I think the government would build bicycle lanes soon here and these bikes would be very popular," Tong said.
The Chinese bike-sharing company said it only put some 500 bikes here as the roads in the Old Town are narrow without bicycle lane.
Twelve shop owners in the Old Town had agreed to accept ofo bikes to be placed in front of their shops, ofo added.
Shop owner Don Limnunthaphisit, also president of Old Phuket Town Community, is one of them.
"The roads are narrow here, so if more and more people drive, there will be traffic problems and drivers cannot find parking place, so I think bikes, however, are more suitable for the Old Town, so I support it," Don said.
He also said local residents should change their mind and choose smart bikes to travel, especially when travelling at a short distance, which is of great advantage as riders can "do exercise at same time and it is a very environmental-friendly way of travel."
Besides travel, locals and foreigners also use the smart bikes for exercise in a local park.
Inside Phuket's Suan Luang Park, many can be seen riding the ofo bikes both in the morning and at dusk on Friday.
Igor, a Russian young man living in Phuket, rode his motorcycle to the park to ride a ofo bike for exercise.
Thanakorn, a 40-year-old local resident even drove his car here to ride a bike.
When asked whether they want to ride these bikes outside the park, they have different ideas.
Igor said it is great to have these bikes not only here in the park but also around the Old Town. "it is great way to explore the Old Town," said the young man.
However, Thanakorn said the infrastructure should be improved to make it safer to ride bikes on those narrow roads.
Another Thai resident, 50-year-old Robin, comes to the park everyday for cycling.
"We Phuket people don't have many ways for exercise and these smart bikes are perfect. I recommend people to ride them to reduce obesity in our province," Robin said.
When it gets dark, lights in front of many ofo bikes shined brightly in the park.
Ofo staff member Pisanu Supho believes these bikes are making his country a better place.