The Biggest, Baddest Bike-Share in the World: Hangzhou China
Anyone who claims that bike-sharing is a European-style transportation innovation has clearly never set foot in Hangzhou, China. The 50,000-bike system in this southern China city of almost 7 million people (about 1.5 million people fewer than New York City) blows all other bike-shares off the map. As Bradley Schroeder of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy said, "I don't think there is anywhere you can stand in Hangzhou for more than a minute or two where you wouldn't have a Hangzhou Public Bike go past you."
Hangzhou's 2,050 bike-share stations are spaced less than a thousand feet from each other in the city center, and on an average day riders make 240,000 trips using the system. Its popularity and success have set a new standard for bike-sharing in Asia. And the city is far from finished. The Hangzhou Bicycle Company plans to expand the bike-share system to 175,000 bikes by 2020!
Bradley Schroeder: [00.08] Historically China’s very well-known for bicycling, and I think there was a period of time, probably a decade or two ago, where the focus went to car culture. And now leaders are realising that it’s absolutely impossible to build enough roads for everyone to have a car. And so you need to look at alternative methods, and those alternative methods are like BRT, their metro. But none of them solve the last mile issue. And that’s where bike sharing comes in.
Zhang Liqiang: [00:37] The public bicycle system was incorporated as part of the public transportation system in Hangzhou. Hangzhou is located in southeast China. It is the capital of Zhijiang Province. It is also the economic, political and cultural centre. It has a population of 6.77 million.
Zhang Liqiang: [00:58] Hangzhou Public Bicycle System trial operation started on May1, 2008. It had 61 service points and 2,800 bicycles. Now, we have 2,050 service points and 51,500 bicycles. Average daily usages are about 240,000 trips with peaks of 320,000. The distance between two service points in the main districts is 200-300 metres and the distance between two service points in the suburbs is about 500-800 metres. The bicycle is free during the first hour. We charge RMB1 for the second hour and RMB2 for the third hours. After that, it is RMB3/hour.
Bradley Schroeder: [01:42] It’s very integrated with other forms of public transport like the bus parking and the water taxis.
Zhang Liqiang: [01:46] As a policy, if you have just used your card to pay bus fee, you can use the bicycle for free for the first 90 minutes.
Speaker: [01:58] When I go to work in the morning at first I choose the bus, then I choose the bike.
Speaker: [02:06] We are all familiar with the traffic congestions in Hangzhou. Bikes are speedy and very convenient. There are many bike stations conveniently located in residential complexes and along major streets.
Bradley Schroeder: [02:24] I don’t think there’s anywhere in Hangzhou you could stand for more than a minute or two where you wouldn’t have a Hangzhou public bike go past you.
Speaker: [02:31] We often use both the public transit and the public bikes on our daily commute. It’s very convenient that we can bike from the transit stop to the doorway of our workplace.
Zhang Liqiang: [02:46] According to an authoritative survey in Hangzhou, the public bicycle system had the highest satisfaction rate among all the projects in city development.
Speaker: [02:57] When I need to take my child to tutoring, it’s easier to use a bike because it’s difficult to find parking for cars.
Speaker: [03:05] The public bicycle is more convenient for me. If I had taken my own bicycle, it’s not really convenient because from my home to my workplace is very far, about more than ten kilometres.
Speaker: [03:17] Now the bike return stations are everywhere. There are two stations in the complex where I live.
Speaker: [03:22] There are many service points in Hangzhou. People do not need to steal our bicycles because they are basically free to use. The people cherish the system and they would not do anything to destroy it.
Speaker: [03:41] For an electric bike I have to worry about where to park it, and whether it’s going to be stolen. But I can put a lock on the public bike anywhere and no one will steal it. And I don’t need to return it to the same place.
Zhang Liqiang: [03:51] Hangzhou Public Bicycle Company is an affiliate of the Public Transportation Group. The company is responsible for the construction, operation and development of the public bicycle system in Hangzhou.
Speaker: [04:11] I don’t live here. I travel here mostly for business and sometimes I swing by the West Lake and hang around a little bit. They say it’s convenient to rent a bike here, so here I am. It is easy to ride a bike for sightseeing around the West Lake.
Speaker: [04:25] I have been using the public bikes along with the public transit system. Biking certainly is cheaper than taking the taxi, and faster than walking. It’s convenient, and the rental is essentially free.
Bradley Schroeder: [04:44] The scale of bike sharing in Hangzhou and in China in general is just completely off the map of what we see in Europe and the Americas.
In my opinion, public bicycle systems will become an important part
of the public transportation systems in cities.
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