Shanghai Launches Bike-Sharing Program

Shanghai has launched a great eco-initiative to encourage bike-sharing and cycling as an alternative to auto transport.

The project allows commuters to pay a nominal fee to access bikes that allow them to cycle between their place of work and the closest metro station.

The project plans to expand to 2,700 sites by 2012.

Cycling commuters in Shanghai have been on a steady decline due to the boom in car ownership and the elimination of bike lanes on select major roads over the past 5 years.  However, that trend may change with a new initiative launched last month to promote bike use.

The city started testing a bike-sharing system to coincide with World Car Free Day and as part of the preparations for the the 2010 World Expo.  The limited trial began outside one metro station near a high-tech research area with the goal of encouraging people to bike between the metro station and their office.  The plan is to expand the program to 800 metro station exits and 2,700 other sites by 2012.

Riders pay a 200 RMB ($28) deposit on the bike, with the first half hour free.  For each additional hour, riders pay 3 RMB ($0.40).  Bikes are supplied by the Shanghai Forever Bicycle Company, one of the most famous and recognizable old bicycle brands in China.

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