September 26, 2016 / 6:15 AM / 2 years ago

Didi Chuxing invests 'tens of millions' in Chinese bike-sharing platform

Students pose for pictures as they use OFO sharing bicycles at campus in Zhengzhou, Henan province, China, September 6, 2016. Picture taken September 6, 2016. China Daily/via REUTERS

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing on Monday said it has invested “tens of millions of dollars” in the country’s largest bicycle-sharing platform ofo, as it looks to provide its users with more transportation options.

Didi, which bought the Chinese unit of rival Uber Technologies Inc’s [UBER.UL] last month, said it would look to include bicycles as an option on its app as part of plans to develop a transport ecosystem. Users of its app can currently only book taxis and private cars.

“If it’s only two or three miles away, or the traffic is crowded, I can just ride a bike and go,” Didi spokesperson Liang Sun said.

In recent decades bicycles have waned in popularity as China’s middle classes turned to cars. But interest has revived as city streets become clogged with traffic and more people become health-conscious amid rising obesity levels.

ofo, whose name resembles a bicycle, was originally established as a student start-up project in the campus of Peking University two years ago.

Users of its platform can book bicycles for as little as 0.5 yuan ($0.075) a ride and the company is now China’s top bike-sharing platform.

Other start-up bicycle sharing platforms in China include Shanghai-based Mobike, which was founded by a former Uber executive.

The deal also comes as Didi recovers from a costly battle with former rival Uber China [UBER.UL]. The firm is buying Uber’s China operations to create a $35 billion ride-hailing giant.

Reporting by Jackie Cai and Brenda Goh; Editing by Stephen Coates

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