Six months after the system opened, Lanzhou, China’s bike share program has met its goal of extending coverage to the city’s BRT corridor. One of China’s best bike shares, the system has impressed city residents with its convenience, accessibility, and comfort. The system has been rapidly adding stations and bikes since opening, improving network coverage and density. The latest expansions, which surround the BRT corridor, have the added benefit of allowing easy transfers between transit modes. Popular and simple to use, the Lanzhou bike share is making it easier to avoid car use.
The capital of Gansu Province and a highly visible Western Chinese city, Lanzhou launched its bike share system in June 2014, marking a key step forward for sustainable transportation in the city. The program was the first time the city had adopted such an aggressively pro-bicycle measure, and the system is being rolled out on a large scale. After opening an innovative and successful BRT in early 2013, bike share offered another accessible form of alternative transportation to city residents. Originally opening with 100 stations and 2,000 bikes in the downtown Chenguan District, the system’s rapid expansion has allowed thousands of users to start cycling through the city, with most of the system’s users being new cyclists. Today, the system operates with 240 stations and 4,000 bikes, with an planned increase to 383 stations and 9,880 bikes by the end of the year. In a city with chronic and worsening traffic concerns, the availability of new modes of transit is critical to reducing car use and improving mobility.
The bike share has quickly become a popular and important part of the city’s landscape. Residents can be seen riding along the banks of the Yellow River, on the protected bike lanes lining the BRT corridor, and crossing through the city’s busy central business district. During recent interviews conducted with riders, Lanzhou citizens voiced how the system is saving them time and money, and getting people out of their cars. “I used to drive” says one Lanzhou resident, “but now it’s really difficult to be a driver in the city. It’s very hard to find a parking space. Now, I park my vehicle someplace else and use bike sharing to travel… Traffic in this city is very congested, so using bike share is very convenient for me!”
The system’s latest expansion along the BRT corridor offers new opportunities for intermodal transit in the city. The BRT and bike share use the same payment card (though the bike share is free for the first hour), making transfers easy and convenient. According to ITDP China Vice-Country Director, Li Shanshan, the integration of bike share and BRT “makes door to door transit possible and accessible for people. It connects the BRT with the city center, making trips downtown more convenient”.
Even with a strong system established, Lanzhou officials are determined to continue improving transit options in the city. The bike sharing system is creating much-needed pressure to improve bicycle facilities in the city, and the downtown Chengguan District is now the subject of a likely follow-up improvement study by ITDP working with the District Government. With so much accomplished and more to come, city residents can sit back and enjoy the ride.