Hangzhou abuzz over bike shar­ing

China Daily (USA) - - G20 2016 CHINA - By CHENMENGWEI in Hangzhou

A week ahead of the G20 Sum­mit in Hangzhou, East China’s Zhe­jiang province, a bike-shar­ing ser­vice moved a step closer to em­brac­ing the mo­bile in­ter­net era by en­abling any­one with a smart­phone to rent a bike by sim­ply scan­ning a QR code.

Many peo­ple say that Hangzhou is a city where you can sur­vive with only a cell phone — ev­ery­thing can be paid for via mo­bile pay­ment apps, in­clud­ing Ali­pay orWeChat Pay. Start­ing from Sun­day, peo­ple have one less thing to worry about, with the scan­ning of a QR code en­abling ac­cess to free bik­ing al­most any­where in the city.

An official app can be down­loaded, but even with­out one, you will be fine, as long as you have the WeChat app on your phone, which has al­most be­come a must-have for any­one liv­ing in China.

For now, 100 sta­tions around the West Lake area have been up­graded to en­able mo­bile renting, but more are to fol­low. First-time users only need to scan theQR­code be­side the bike, reg­is­ter via text mes­sage, pay a re­fund­able de­posit of 500 yuan ($75) and start rid­ing, ac­cord­ing to Tao Xue­jun, general man­ager of Hangzhou Pub­lic Bi­cy­cle Ser­vice.

As one of China’s first cities to pro­mote­mod­ern­bike-shar­ing ser­vices back in 2008, Hangzhou is renowned glob­ally and has been ranked by in­ter­na­tional news­me­diaout­lets such as the BBC and USA To­day as the most friendly city for bike shar­ing.

As of May, Hangzhou had 84,100 pub­lic bikes at 3,572 sta­tions around the city. In pop­u­lated ar­eas sur­round­ing West Lake, a sta­tion can be eas­ily found ev­ery 500 me­ters or so. On av­er­age, 310,000 peo­ple use the ser­vice on a daily ba­sis, with the peak daily vol­ume reach­ing 448,600, ac­cord­ing to official sta­tis­tics.

For those who have not rented a bike in Hangzhou be­fore, the first hour is free of charge. The sec­ond hour costs

The num­ber of pub­lic rental bikes in Hangzhou as of May

1 yuan and the third hour 2 yuan. Each hour be­yond that costs 3 yuan.

If you re­turn a bike within one hour, say af­ter 59 min­utes, then re-rent it, you get an­other free hour. This process can be re­peated with­out limit— a lo­cal se­cret that any Hangzhou dama (fe­male se­nior cit­i­zen) will be ea­ger to share with you.

At least 80 mil­lion yuan was spent on main­tain­ing the rental bikes last year, Tao said, and the fig­ure is des­tined to in­crease as more bikes are in­tro­duced. But the com­pany has man­aged to strike a bal­ance by sell­ing ad­ver­tise­ments and kept its prom­ise of “spend­ing no tax­pay­ers’ money”.

For in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors or those who pre­fer us­ing tra­di­tional cards, a valid pass­port and about 300 yuan — in­clud­ing a 200-yuan de­posit, 20-yuan card fee and 80-yuan transport credit — is more than enough for a traf­fic pass.

With that, you can ride not only bikes but also buses, sub­ways, fer­ries and taxis. In ad­di­tion, when you get off one bus and trans­fer to an­other, it is free. The trick is, if you ride a bike af­ter get­ting off any bus, you get 90 min­utes rid­ing time free of charge.

WANG ZHUANGFEI / CHINA DAILY

A Hangzhou res­i­dent uses a pub­lic bike to com­mute on Mon­day.

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