I spent my summer vacation this year traveling around Japan, South Korea, and China. Prior to jetting off across the Pacific, I found that there are over 90 bike share programs in Asia. As a tribute to BikeShare.com, I thought it would be fun to visit as many of these bike share systems as I could during my trip overseas. In a short time frame, I was able to find 7 of them–mostly randomly by chance while sightseeing. And now I am back in the US to tell you all about it. Here are the highlights (click on images to enlarge):
COGICOGI | Tokyo | Japan
I found these dockless bikes aligned neatly in front of a Starbucks cafe while walking along Meji-Dori in Shibuya. This bike sharing system uses electric-assisted bicycles so you can ride uphill and against headwinds around the bustling city without breaking a sweat. The bikes are located in 32 locations around Shibuya and Tokyo Skytree areas–usually situated in front of hotels or coffee shops. The system uses Panasonic (yellow bikes) and Yamaha (white bikes) electric bicycles. Each bike is equipped with a rechargeable battery and a control on the handlebar that allows you to adjust the assisting level. To use this system, you can obtain a key by visiting the business establishment that services the bike share port like a hotel or museum. Or you can register for a membership online to use your transit smart card, such as Suica or PASMO, to check out the bikes.
Bay Bike | Yokohama | Japan
I spotted Yokohama’s Bay Bike system on my way to the subway station from Yamashita Park. Residents and tourists with Japanese mobile numbers can check out these bikes situated in major tourist spots and transit stations throughout the city. As of 2012, the system operates 24 stations and 200 bikes. The system is also managed by Japan’s largest mobile communication company, NTT DoCoMo, Inc., which is upgrading the system to next generation bicycles that integrates the bike with GPS and the smart phone.
Fifteen Life | Goyang | South Korea
The “Fifteen” stands for 15 km/hr, which is the average speed of the bicycle. The system’s slogan ‘Green life. Slow Life.’ is the government’s motto to encourage people to use the bike instead of the car to help the city achieve environmental sustainability. The system operates 125 stations and 3,000 bikes. I spent a week in the Ilsan District and saw locals frequently using the system throughout the day. I had a friend register a bike for me using his mobile number and Korean identification number. And no need to enter your credit card information because the fee is charged directly to your mobile phone bill at the end of the month. Overall, the city is very bike-friendly and we were able to use bike share to cover the first and last mile when taking the subway to Seoul.
Beijing Public Sharing | Beijing | China
This is a fully government-funded and operated system. The majority of the stations are located in the Chaoyang and Dongcheng Districts along subway lines 5 and 10. During my stay in Beijing, I’ve only seen the bikes being used perhaps two or three times–a sad fact. The program operates 520 stations and 14,000 bikes in seven urban districts and several suburban areas in Beijing. The government plans to expand the program to 50,000 bicycles and 1,000 stations by 2015.
Forever Bicycles | Beijing | China
What’s a Shanghai bike sharing system doing in Beijing? Beats me. But I found one in front of the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development Headquarters in the Haidian District. I asked around and people told me that no one uses it any more. It’s sitting there idly much like the Beijing Public Sharing system. But it serves as a convenient spot to park your own personal bike next to it (see photo below).
Hangzhou Public Bicycle | Hangzhou | China
When I was in Shanghai for a week, I took a day trip to Hangzhou to check out the world’s 2nd largest bike sharing system. You can read more about Hangzhou’s program in my previous editorial here.
YouBike/Ubike | Taipei | Taiwan
It’s UBike with a smile (see skirt guard). And it certainly lived up to its logo as I had one of my best bike share experiences on the UBikes. My friend helped me register for a bike at the Taipei City Hall station using his EasyCard, Taipei’s smart card for public transit and other services. This bike sharing station is basically one large lot. And on a weekday afternoon, all of the bikes were checked out. But the turnaround for the next available bike was quick. I observed users arriving at this station to return the bikes only to be greeted warmly by those who were waiting for the next available bike. Once the bike was returned at the dock station, it was checked out again within seconds by another user. The system runs 24-hours and uses GIANT bikes, the largest bicycle manufacturing company in Taiwan. There are currently 79 stations and 2,000 bikes in the system, and it appears to be a demand for it to grow in the future.
Next up: Europe and its 350+ bike sharing programs! Now, I just need to find travel funding…