Watching this video was exciting. The city of Huangzhou in Zhejiang province is about a hundred miles or 161 kilometers from Shanghai. We’ve visited several times. Our last trip was in 2008 shortly before the project this story covers was launched. Huangzhou is one of the most beautiful cities in China.
Al Jazerra’s Melissa Chan reports on one of the largest bike sharing projects in the world and one of the most successful.
Launched in 2008, the city of Huangzhou provides 50,000 free bicycles at 2,000 bike stops across the city.
The people Chan interviewed say they use the bikes to go to work and it is great to be outside and exercising. One woman says it cuts her commute time.
Melissa Chan says the first hour of bike use is free. It’s actually possible to cycle free all day as long as you check in at a stop every hour.
The system is easy to use—just swipe a bike card across a reader (similar to riding many urban rapid transit systems) and off you go.
Registering for a card is simple. All that’s needed is a deposit and identification.
Huangzhou, also known as the Westlake, has been one of the more environmentally conscious cities in China.
The government made space to build parks alongside the rapid development and modernization. Huangzhou has remained picturesque unlike many other cities in China where the concrete jungle has taken over.
Li Zhi Hong of Hangzhou Public Transport says the city wanted to encourage citizens to leave their cars and use more public transportation. The bicycles allowed people to take that final kilometer from the bus station to their destination.
The bikes are also great for tourism.
Melissa Chan says public busses have also adopted European emission standards. While there are still many cars on the road, people tell her that it could be a lot worse.
The city has taken the pollution issue seriously and Huangzhou’s success has attracted the attention of Beijing where the pollution problem is still “painfully” visible with each breath.
Today, Huangzhou is one of the cleanest cities in the country.
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.
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