Hangzhou, China

2014-12-31 00:00:00

Urban Public Bicycle Sharing Program

Comments from the Technical Committee:

With 80 percent of residents and commuters identifying a serious traffic problem in the city, Hangzhou launched China's first public bicycle project.

Serving some 280,000 riders daily, the system (free for the first hour) complements the city's extensive bus system. Run by the newly-formed Hangzhou Public Bicycle Development Company, it represents a model of government-led enterprise, claimed to be the world's largest bike-sharing program that doesn't require government funding beyond initial capital.

Apart from fees on bike use (imposed after the first hour), the company raises significant private funds through selling advertising space on the bike docking station kiosks. A key feature is partnerships with universities to monitor trends and issues in the use of the bikes and a unique management system designed to overcome the most frequent problem areas of bike sharing systems: service points, getting bikes to where they are needed when they are needed, responsive hotline support, repairs and implementing users' recommendations for the continuous improvement of the system.

Background Information

The urban traffic development strategy of “Public Transport Priority” was established in December 2006 according to the Opinions on Economic Policies for Preferential Development of Urban Public Transport jointly issued by four ministries and commissions including MOHURD. With everything in consideration,, Hangzhou Municipality put forward the “Five-in-One” Urban Public Transport Service System combined with the characteristics of Hangzhou and the “public bicycle”.

Goals of the Initiative

Coordinated by Hangzhou Public Transport Group Co., Ltd., the CPC Hangzhou Municipal Committee and Hangzhou Government established Hangzhou Public Bicycle Service Development Co., Ltd. (abbreviated as “Hangzhou Public Bicycle Service”) in April 2008. The company is responsible for the total construction, operation and service management of Hangzhou’s public bicycle system, introducing the practice of free rent for the first hour and staggered rents in excess of one hour. The first row of 61 public bicycle service outlets was open to the public in May 2008 with 2,800 public bicycles put on trial operation.

Making Long-term Public Bicycle Development Planning (2008 to 2010)

CPC Hangzhou Municipal Committee and Hangzhou Government developed the Opinions on Strengthening Construction and Management of Public Bicycle System and Opinions on Further Practice of Preferential Development Strategy of Public Transport and Building of “Quality Public Transport” in 2008 and in early 2010 respectively. According to the opinions, the first stage of the construction program was to be completed at the end of 2009 with up to 1,000 renting outlets in main urban districts housing 50,000 bicycles. By 2010 the public bicycle system was to be extended to Hangzhou Economic & Technological Development Area (Xiasha district), Hangzhou Hi-tech Development Zone (Binjiang district), Xiaoshan district and Yuhan district. By 2012 the system was to cover all five counties with a total of 60,000 public bicycles from 2,400 renting outlets, of which the central area of these five counties were to be afford 200 to 400 public bicycles from 10 to 20 outlets. By 2015 the number of public bicycles in Hangzhou was to total up to 90,000 and the outlets reach 3,500, of which the central area of these five counties were to be home to 500 public bicycles from 25 outlets. It is planned that there will be at least 175,000 public bicycles in Hangzhou, with the sum expected to be 200,000 if possible.

Exploring the Sustainable Development of Public Bicycles (in 2009)

To ensure the sustainable development of public bicycles, at the very beginning the government put forward a plan of financial support for the infrastructure construction of the system and the rest of costs should be covered by enterprises themselves so as to reduce the financial pressure on the government. However the government will provide preferential policies in trial operations, including commercialization and the development of service outlets. The model of “public financing and corporate management” lays a sound foundation for the sustainable development of Hangzhou’s public bicycle system.

Innovation for the Initiative

The program, to some extent, is revolutionarily innovative.

Borrowing the idea from Paris, Hangzhou Public Bicycle Company didn’t make any field visit to France nor had any email exchanges at the early stage. The company merely downloaded pictures of Paris’ public bicycle from the Internet and then independently developed “YAO Guofang” lock device with many national patents and Hangzhou Public Bicycle Intelligent System, changing the means of travel for many Hangzhou citizens. Ten riding routes are promoted to provide more leisure travel to foreign visitors allowing them to ride to the West Lake and Ten Old City Gates. Meanwhile, the development scale, service modes and results achieved in the later period go beyond those of many cities in the world. According to the “Activity Time”, an American Professional Outdoor Activity Website, analysis and contrast have been made on public bicycle programs of 553 places around the world as of October 2013, and the comprehensive scores based on six criteria ranked Hangzhou top among the 16 places judged.

Outcomes and Assessments

Four combinations and one notice

The government adopted a principle of "four combinations and one notice", that is, the city management committee, the traffic police, the municipal administration and the bus group choose the site location jointly and then put the notice open for seven days on condition of the suitability of this location and no objection from any citizen.

First industrial service standards

The compiled management service specification of city public bicycles gives details of the service standard, standardizes the service content and was issued after seven modifications spanning for eight months as the provincial specification to encourage the province's development and popularization of the public bicycle system.