On 22 September, World Car Free Day, chinadialogue and green NGO Friends of Nature launched a new report on bike hire schemes in Chinese cities.
The event was attended by guests including Peng Yan, China Director of CAI-Asia and Dr Fang Ke, a World Bank specialist in urban transportation, and provided an opportunity to share insights on different cities’ attempts to create public bike rental systems and strategies for building a sustainable transport system.
chinadialogue’s report “Urban bicycle hire in China” (currently available in Chinese only), written in cooperation with Friends of Nature, compared the development models used for public bike hire schemes in three major cities: Beijing, Wuhan and Hangzhou.
Although Beijing’s bicycle rental industry first emerged in the 1990s, it was not until 2007, through the heat of the Olympic Games, that real growth occurred. Progress since then has been beset by difficulties.
Hangzhou, a city on the east coast, has China’s most intensive public bicycle network with a rental point set up every 100 metres on average, and each bike used an average of five time per day.
Regardless of what type of development model is used, researchers say government support is the key to success.
In the cities where the government considers bike rental as a part of public planning and support it with generous subsidies, development is stable and sustainable. In Beijing, however, where the government has hoped the market will push the system, the companies involved appear unable to drive it forward.
A failure of different regions to link up their efforts has meant the programmes have acted in isolation, preventing wider impacts being felt.
Translated by chinadialogue volunteers Chris Hay and Edited byTom Levitt.