Hangzhou Public Bike Share


It’s a big world out there, filled with cities doing all sorts of interesting things with bike infrastructure.

From time to time, Bikeway Central will offer a first person perspective of someone who lives in or has visited a city with an interesting bike culture.

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My friend Lolita Sastri recently traveled to the city of Hangzhou, China on business. Here’s what she had to say about the bicycling scene there:

You may have heard that China has a reputation as one of the worst places in the world for air pollution. Well, in reality, Hangzhou is very green. Part of it is the bike system. They seem to have a bike share station placed next to almost every other bus station. And the bike share system is free! 

Well, actually the bike share is only free for two hours, but after two hours you can return your bike to the next station, pick up another one from the new station and get another two hours of free bike riding. Designing the system this way ensures that every station always seems to have a fresh supply of bikes. 

Typically, when people get off the bus, they can just grab a bike to go to their home, which could be miles away. When they get near the house, they can drop the bike at the nearest station and continue by walking.

Hangzhou even has a bike path in the central, most crowded part of the city. I also saw a lot of electric bikes (pretty silent and no carbon pollution), mostly used by people who carry lots of merchandise by bike. 

One other interesting point is that the Hangzhou makes the look of its public bikes so obnoxiously commercial (yes, there are advertisements on it) that no one will steal the bikes. This is important since bicycle theft is a big problem in China. 

Finally, it’s not bike-related, but I did think it was interesting that Hangzhou’s long-distance electric buses are also electric. In fact they are so silent that you have to be careful! Many times I almost got hit by one while crossing the street.

– Lolita Sastri, Curitiba, Brazil