Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Biggest Public Bicycle System in Hangzhou

While Paris and London hog the world’s media attention with Boris’ Bikes and the Velib, by some accounts the Chinese city of Hangzhou now boasts the world’s largest and most used public shared bicycle system. Rory McMullan, contributing editor to World Streets, reports on his impressions of the city, its transport network and the public bike system from an on-street carbon-free visit during the Chinese New Year. Once at the central bike station renting a bicycle is relatively easy, simply provide proof of i.d. and in return for 300 RMB (GB£30) cash of which 200 RMB is a deposit he finally got his hands on a smart card. The attendant explained how to use the bikes, and gave a map marking all the bike stations, some marked in blue which are fully automatic and operate between 8am – 9pm and ones marked in red are 24-hour manned ones mostly positioned at key junctions throughout the network. The manned stations act like mini-tourist information offices and apart from information on bikes also have a collection of brochures about things to do in the city. The bikes are free to ride for the first hour and charged at 2 RMB for every hour after that. There are 40,000 bikes at over 2100 stations. Read on here.