Free bicycles integrated into urban transport strategy

17:39, March 26, 2010      

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By the end of May this year, Nanjing will first deliver public bicycles in Zhongshan Mausoleum scenic spot and the Hexi New Town. The bicycle for hire is free in 1 hour, and will charge some fees for more than 1 hour.

With the city growing in size and population, traffic is becoming a more serious problem. To deal with this problem, the city government will provide free bicycles. There are four benefits: First, the public can save travel costs. Providing bikes in scenic spots will greatly facilitate tourists. Otherwise, visitors only can rely on foot or by taxi and shuttle to attractions, which apparently is not easier and is less economical than riding a bike. Second, subway and buses can not be extended to the people's houses. The free bicycles will solve this problem.

Third, it boosts green transport. Bicycles do not consume energy and it is the ideal zero-emission vehicle. More bicycle riders means low-carbon living. Fourth, it helps to ease traffic jams. If public bicycles are widely and properly distributed and the bicycle rent procedure is convenient, then there more and more people would choose public transport to go to work instead of driving a private car. It not only relieves traffic jams, but also reduces exhaust pollution.

Before Nanjing, some cities including Hangzhou, Wuhan and Changzhou also have launched the trial points for public bicycles, but Changzhou ofJiangsu province only tried out for half a year. Due to the implementation of market-oriented operation, the bicycle rent companies mainly rely on the advertisement on bicycles to maintain costs without support from the government. Profits doe not cover the cost so that the companies cannot last.

This shows that the market-oriented model of the public bicycle rent is somewhat flawed and needs to be improved. The government should consider bringing it into the urban transport strategy as a free public service and paying for it by government finance.

From the perspective of sustainable development of urban transport, the government should encourage the public to ride a bicycle to go to work through the demonstration effect of public bicycles, which requires that there are convenient urban road resources, such as the addition of bicycle lanes, to let the rider feel safe.

By People's Daily Online
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