Shenzhen’s first government-funded bicycle rental system has started trial operations here in the Yantian District. The bikes in the picture are from right across the street from my hotel. A total of 3,000 bicycles would be put into use in the early stage of the operation and will eventually reach 5,000. We – the lǎowàis (foreigners) – are not sure we will qualify for the rental cards that are issued for using the bikes. Residents are to pay 200 yuan (US$32) of deposit for the card while others need to pay 500 yuan (US$80) for each card. Then it is free to rent a bike for up to one hour, after which each additional hour will cost 2 yuan each.
Will the program be a success? That is not at all assured .. here’s a report from Paris, France in Wikipedia’s entry (search for ‘Bicycle Sharing Systems’) :
A resurgence in bike sharing programs is attributed by many to the launching in 2007 of Paris’s Vélib’, a network of 20,000 specially designed bicycles distributed among 1450 stations throughout Paris. Vélib’, inspired by Lyon’s seminal Vélo’v project, is now considered the second largest bike sharing system of its kind in the world. While the Vélib’ program may be considered a success in terms of rider usage (daily use averages between 50,000 to 150,000 trips), a staggering 80 percent of the original 20,600 bicycles have been destroyed or stolen. Some Vélib’ cycles have been found in Eastern Europe and North Africa, while others have been dumped in the Seine River, hung from lampposts, or abandoned on the roadside in various states of disrepair, forcing the City of Paris to reimburse the program operator an estimated $2 million per year for excess costs under its contractual agreement.