Illustration of a person on an electrically bicycle with a zero battery in the middle of a hill.

Lifestyle

The battery level of the rental bicycle is zero.

Today I used a shared bicycle service for the first time: an electrically assisted bicycle is available for 165 yen ( about $1.2 ) per 30 minutes. Unmanned cycle ports are located at various locations, so you can rent a bike nearby and return it remotely. Reservations, unlocking and returning bicycles can all be controlled via a smartphone app.

Today I used a shared bicycle service for the first time: an electrically assisted bicycle is available for 165 yen ( about $1.2 ) per 30 minutes. Unmanned cycle ports are located at various locations, so you can rent a bike nearby and return it remotely. Reservations, unlocking and returning bicycles can all be controlled via a smartphone app.

After riding it, I found it very convenient. Since it is electric, slopes are not hard at all. This is great! No wonder this bicycle is used by a variety of people, including commuting office worker and Uber Eats delivery people. I parked my bike on the sidewalk, locked it up, and had lunch. Now, this costs ¥165 for 30 minutes of use. If I bought my own e-bike, it would cost 80,000 yen ( about $570 ). That is 165 yen. It was a very satisfying experience.

With my stomach and mind full, I went to unlock my bicycle to go home, only to find that the electronic key monitor is completely black. Suddenly, I looked at the bicycle’s rechargeable battery and saw the “no battery left” light blinking. In hindsight, this bike’s battery was about to run out from the beginning.

The unlock code cannot be read without electricity. It is also impossible to move it as it is still locked. The FAQ on the service website says “In case of trouble, contact us <after> returning to the port”. I am unable to return the bike to that port. I was 30 minutes away by e-bike. The nearest port is a 10-minute walk away.

I had no choice but to lift the rear of the bicycle with my right hand and push the handlebars with my other hand to turn the front wheel. The electric bicycle is heavy, weighing more than 30 kg. After 10 meters, I lost feeling in my right hand lifting the bike. After pushing for 25 meters , I gave up and called the support center.

Finally, it was decided that I should abandon the bike and the vendor would pick it up later. I ended up taking a cab on the  way home. Unlike the way here, I felt terrible.

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