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Bike rental starts off in low gear

By Jack Aldane and Yin Yeping (Global Times)

08:18, October 11, 2012

A foreigner tries unsuccessfully to rent a bike at Chaoyangmen, Chaoyang district, on the first day the city launched the public bike rental service Wednesday. Foreigners have to wait another week to rent. (Photo: Li Hao/GT)

The Beijing government said an upgraded bicycle rental service, which is supposed to serve all Beijingers including expats, who can use it with their passports, was launched Wednesday.

Yet the Global Times found that foreigners still cannot get a rental card even with a passport. And some other problems were also exposed because the service system has not been upgraded completely.

"These upgrades will hopefully take effect after October 15th," Wang Wanling, Chaoyangmen service station manager, told the Global Times.

Main problems in the system include the lack of a compensation system or English language assistance.

"Without a compensation system, it's hard to keep a good maintenance of these bikes, since users currently do not have to pay for any damages or losses of their rented bikes," said Li Luming, official spokesperson of Beijing GoldeNet Communication Technology Company, the company that oversees the daily operation of the system.

Another thing lacking in the service is English language assistance for foreigners. Li concedes that Beijing GoldeNet Communication Technology Company presently does not employ English-speaking service providers.

"Working out an English speaking service is the top priority of our work in the future," he said.

Two districts, Dongcheng and Chaoyang, have been supplied with 2,000 rental bikes at 63 roadside stations. The rental capacity will expand to 7,000 bikes in Beijing if the service turns out to be successful. The service aims to allow tourists and locals living outside the city to use bikes as an alternative means of transport to cars, subways and buses, according to Li.

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