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Kunming to put 45,000 public use bikes on roads

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The Kunming municipal government has experimented with green initiatives in the past. Such efforts have included huge re-greening campaigns and no-car days, the latter of which have sadly been discontinued. The newest endeavor, announced recently in all major metropolitan newspapers, involves putting some 45,000 public use bicycles on Spring City roads.

At project's end, a planned 2,500 bike depots will dot Kunming. Most of the planned "service spots" (服务网点) will be clustered along existing and under-construction subway lines, outside of the city's largest neighborhoods and near universities and tourist hotspots where rush hour traffic jams are most common.

Dubbed "The Last Kilometer" (最后一公里) by city managers, the program targets commuters who nearly get home via existing public transportation options, but may still need to walk a good distance. Details such as overall cost, what company will provide the bikes and the exact locations of the depots have yet to be released.

However, details regarding a few project benchmarks do exist. Between now and the end of 2017, the city will build 500 bike pick-up and drop-off points housing 10,000 bikes. Of those stops, 100 will be located in Kunming's sprawling southern Chenggong District (呈贡新区). Between March 2017 and December 2019, an additional 4,000 bike depots are planned for areas along Metro Lines 3 and 6, as well as in the previously mentioned traffic bottlenecks.

Once in place, bikes will be available to use for those with a charged bus or Metro card that has previously been officially linked to a Chinese ID card. Current plans state bikes are free to use for the first hour, with each additional 30-minute period costing 0.5 yuan. A rental period ends when a rider returns their borrowed bike to any of the other depots. Fees for a single day will not run more than 15 yuan, according to media reports.

The bike initiative is part of a broader five-year plan to create a new "transportation network" in Kunming to alleviate traffic congestion. Under the strategy, priority will be given to subways, buses, taxis and bikes in that order, with cars receiving the lowest importance in future city planning.

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Excellent idea, but I think charging 15 rmb a day is not so good, as those just wanting to get home from the bus stop in the evening will have to pay 0.5rmb for the bike while it sits in front of their flat and then return it in the morning. There's a system in place in Berlin that, I think, is free - just return the bikes.

As ever with this sort of city initiative, I'll believe it when I see it.

They have this program in many cities in East China. At least the city I'm living in it has been successful. I agree 15RMB is too much though. It should be more like 100RMB per month.

...and I say that, because that is what it costs out East.

Really good idea which may improve some people's health and fitness and save them quite a bit of money. It works quite well in Hangzhou.

@Alien, the idea is that you return the bikes at the nearest station to your home/destination. Of course with only 500 stations planned there will be a lot of places where you still have to walk several hundred metres to get home. Users have to decide if that is worth 15rmb.

The way I understand it, in Berlin you can pick up the bicycle at any bike station and return it to any other.

Great! Let's hope this will work also with Visa, Mastercard and Unionpay. The requirement of having a Chinese ID card is too much of a limitation.

MoBike is the future. In Beijing, you just find the nearest MoBike with your app. Once you park and lock it anywhere(no station required) it's available to anyone else, who again finds it with an app. Very stylish and sturdy bike, but too low to the ground for big laowai.

As to the bike stations, I'm all for it too, but maintenance for those bikes goes down hill fast from the ones I've seen in other cities. Many rusted hard to turn, flat or very low tires, broken locks. Also, always a commuter imbalance on stations with rush hour and city/suburb stations. I think in Montreal they had to lorry bikes around every night to correct the imbalance.

Good link, Voltaire - so there are some problems with such schemes, but anybody thinking they're more serious than the ones caused by everybody driving around in private cars and taking taxis alla time might benefit from a stroll down to the corner to watch the traffic for awhile.

they're here! saw the bikes today, and tried it. I could use it without Chinese ID card, just had to add 99 yuan to the app. The app is called 永安行.


Thanks for the info. I recently tried those in Guangzhou and Shenzen. They are great! No need to find a specific parking station. You just leave them anywhere you want and scan a QR code with the app. Through a geolocalised chip connected to the net they work like a charm. I guess the KM ones don't provide this option... And they will be small, suited for the standard Chinese body.

great to ride into city, get blasted and get taxi home if too drunk to ride. get drunk responsibly LOL

So now there's also Ofo bikes and Mobikes in the Kunming streets. With Youonbike, that's now 3 startups offering station-less bike sharing in Kunming... I'm guessing the municipal project with bike depots from this article is something else actually. I wonder if that started as well.

I have seen lots of these bikes around. I have yet to use any.
From what I can see, you scan the QR code on the bike, which unlocks it. I assume you scan again to re-lock it. I assume billing is by Wechat.
It looks like you don't need to find a bike park, and I assume that the location of the bike is known from the location data from the phone that scans the QR code.

I've only used mobike. you can register with your passport (just upload 2 pics of yourself and the passport). you can pay via Alipay or wechat. find a bike with the app (PM me and I can send you a link via wechat). scan the QR code on the bike to ride it and lock it manually at the end. oh... you need to provide a 299rmb refundable deposit.

299 deposit. So I am in effect buying a bike, and paying a small fee to allow me to ride it around the city and then park it anywhere and walk away.
I understand the need to fund the scheme upfront, but I would prefer it if my rental fees were drawn down against my deposit, until used up. Why? Because if the scheme goes belly up I would not see my deposit returned.
Sorry if this sounds cynical, but I have not had enough bikes of mine stolen yet to make me blasé about giving others my money.

It's a bit different than owning a bike. You don't need to worry about parking, storage, or maintenance. You don't worry about it being stolen as long as after you lock it, it's not your responsibility anymore. If Mobike, does say collapse overnight, then yes, your probably out your 299, but same goes for a gym membership or restaurant prepaid via card. Also, 299 doesn't buy a very good bike.

prepaid vip card...also, you can ride a Mobike one way, again something you aren't likely to do with your own bike.

Saw 2 Mobikes on the bottom of the Panlong river today. Were thrown off the bridge by the Waterfalls park. Had the bright orange rims. People are already dumping them in the middle of the sidewalks.

@ tigertiger Clearly not owning the bike lessens the concern for its condition once one is done with it. As you have pointed out all of these bikes have been paid for. Seems reasonable the business recoups the cost of the bike and the user can dump it with the only worry about finding another, somewhere.

The perfect meld of capitalism and communal ownership.

Tiger, thanks for the Guardian article - seems the refundable Y299 is a good idea.

Yes, it seems like the system is set up to collect money only. There seems to be no thought to managing or maintaining the asset.

Exactly! What would you say the likelihood of getting the deposit back?

Buy x number of bikes, collect deposit from 4x riders, leave town with 30 million yuan.

Seems to me the deposit might be returned only after the bike has been returned, and vice versa. Naturally, profit-seekers here have to be controlled by law, registration, etc., and not allowed to run off with the deposits. I don't understand that people would junk the bikes somewhere if it meant they'd lose Y299.

Different coloured rental bikes seem to be all over town. Looking forward to a definitive GoK article explaining the options and differences and how to use them all.

Majority of this bike share seems positive so far. Seen plenty on way to haigeng park and some aunties using them for shopping, a random student on one now and then. Very sad a some punks tossed two into the river. That pile in the Guardian article is a commuter imbalance. Some city public bike programs in various western cities experience it too. There is a pile up of personal owned bikes at a train station in Copenhagen I think.

From www.theguardian.com/[...]
'either parked haphazardly by careless users or stacked by local security guards...'
My money is on the city management doing this. Sad. Locally one issue seems to be people parking them inside their xiaoqu or even in their apartment. Some idiots are also modifying them (changing the pedals for clipless ones) or simply removing parts so that the bike will still be there for their ride home. On the bright side I have heard of car park guards stopping people from putting them in paid parking.

these new bikes seem to be working really well. The government scheme bikes are pretty much redundant now. I'd like to give the idiots who threw the bikes into the river several good hard slaps.

Extended new report on Yunnan TV (channel 16or17) showing scores of bikes just dumped in different locations around Kunming.

If you are interested in opting in to one of these schemes, the following may help you make a choice.

I saw, on the Yunnan news today, a news story from one of the poorer ends of town. Lots of children riding around on misappropriated OFO bikes. The locks had been removed or otherwise disabled.

OFO also have tubed tires (can puncture), and the saddles can easily be removed (because it has a quick release toggle so that it can be easily raised).

Mobike I have seen have solid tires.

I have looked at the blue bikes and Mobike and I am not sure that the saddle can be removed.
Mobike also can show you where available bikes are on the app. I was told that others cannot do that, although I stand to be corrected.

The point I am making is that OFO are the company most likely to fold first, and cause you to lose your deposit.

I think ofo is backed by a multi billion dollar company called didi. Though that might not stop them from closing down and rebranding a subsidiary, much like the two hair salons I bought memberships to.

Agree ofo bikes are the cheapest. The breaking of locks explains why I see kids on them in the outskirts km villages.

None of the three are comfortable rides for any length other than for kids or women.

So 4 months have passed and the city bicycle program is breaking down, is that so?

Any comment on that Alien, its 4 months since your praising reply.

Lets see the good side here too, at least law is not breaking down yet.

Peter, think program is far from breaking down, i see hundreds of these bikes being ridden everyday. My understanding is the companies have purchased so many of these bikes that the cost is very low, so i am sure they have build in a good size damage and loss ratio for the idiots that choose to not follow the rules or damage the bikes. From what i can see the bigger problem bigger than the damage to bikes is the ones being hidden and locked up for the owners personal use.

@ Peter: Answer to your question: no.

hidden, locked up, locks vandalixed for personal use.

@Philou, I saw these on the local news yesterday. Either K6 or Yunnan TV (Channel 23 and 17 on the old cable box). My Chinese is terrible, but it looks like they have penalties for not return.
Note, for those who are interested, the story will probably be on again today as they local news cycles news a lot (pun intended).

When you compare the city bikes, with the need for collection and return to designated depots, and penalties, this seems a much less user friendly option than the ride and leave models currently out there.
Here is another question, I ride one of the city's hire bikes, and when I get to the depot, there are no more available parking slots for me to deposit the bike. Then what?

Another thing, the bikes have big wheel guards (cover half the wheels) which would allow for advertising space.

Update in the news today. Two related stories.
First, a group of young volunteers are combing the streets, looking for stolen bikes, and then returning them. Some are even locked with cable locks and chains, but the volunteers carry large bold croppers to cut the chains.
Second, police have apparently jailed 3 people for stealing these bikes. I think one person got 11 days and the other person 5 days.

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