Beijing launches real-time public bicycle app

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, August 26, 2016
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Beijing launched its first real-time public bicycle app on Thursday, as September-the most congested month of the year-approaches.

The application, which is integrated into the Beijing Transport app, provides real-time location data, including nearby rental stations and the number of available bikes and open docks.

Users can easily determine availability by the color of raindrop-shaped icons.

"We are promoting the public bicycle system to raise awareness that riding bikes is a way to live a healthy, green and low-carbon life," said Jiao Tongmin, a director at the Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport in charge of public bicycles.

September is usually the most congested month of the year in Beijing, with students returning from their summer vacations, and the Mid-Autumn Festival and subsequent National Day holidays prompting people to take trips or visit family.

As one of many measures to deal with the projected traffic, Beijing has added 8,000 public bikes to its system, which began in 2012. Beijing now has 68,000 public bicycles-about three times the number in Paris, the largest system outside China. They are distributed in more than 2,000 stations to more than 700,000 registered users.

"China used to be a kingdom of bicycles, and we have reason to believe that bicycles will have their prime again soon," said Zhang Weimin, deputy curator of the China Bicycle Museum.

However, some cities have had problems developing a system. For instance, once boasting nearly 100,000 bikes, Wuhan, Hubei province, need a one-year hiatus in 2014 to deal with the aftermath of the previously poorly-run company before it could restart the service in 2015.

One reason for the pause was the inconvenience of borrowing and returning bikes due to awkward locations and frequent apparatus malfunction.

Beijing has considered these problems as well.

"We've already included services alerting the stations in our WeChat subscription account, and this time we also included it in the application," said Rong Jun, a member of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport.

Other functions integrated in the application include real-time bus information that provides actual bus locations and estimated time of arrival at a certain station, road congestion information and license-plate lottery results. The size of crowds in subways and locations of charging stations for electric cars are in the works for future updates.

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