October 16th, 2012
I’ve been seeing articles in the newspapers about a new rental bike scheme to be introduced in Beijing in the near future for some time now, but hadn’t really paid much attention. Then a few weeks ago I turned the corner and saw this:
A long rack with slots on the ground roughly the width of a bicycle tire and slots at the top with a box and some kind of electronic interface, and at the end a post with a screen, keypad and pad for an IP or IC card or something similar…. hmmm…. a sign that this bike rental scheme really is coming soon?
Well, then, yesterday I decided to take the scenic route home. No new battery in my watch after two weeks is a bit ridiculous, so I went and got that seen to first at a place on the far side of campus then took a slightly less direct route home than necessary, and what did I see?
This is a different rack from the one I first saw, but there are bikes in it, all uniform and distinctive as the rentals. There was a young woman at the post apparently in the process of renting a bike, perhaps returning it, I don’t know, and people apparently queueing behind her, and, as you can see, curious onlookers keen to check out what’s new in the neighbourhood.
At another rental station up the road I got a snap of the screen:
It’s not very good, but none of the photos from my phone are, but you can see a map of the area – certainly not all of Beijing, but a very easily cyclable area in our corner of the city – with what seems to be the locations of rental stations in that area.
Now, I don’t know how to use the system, and unfortunately Google and Baidu aren’t turning up terribly much information, but this article announcing that the system is now open to foreigners says there are five places to get a bicycle rental card:
- Outside Exit A2 of Subway Line 5 Tiantan Dongmen Station
- Outside Exit A of Subway Line 2 Dongzhimen Station
- Outside Exit A of Subway Line 2 Chaoyangmen Station
- Sanlitun Sub-District Beisanlitun Shequ (三里屯街道北三里社区)
- Maizidian Community Minibus Station?!?!? (麦子店便民小巴停靠站)
Yeah, I’m really not sure about the last two.
But otherwise I’m struggling to find any decent information on the system. Serves me right for waxing lyrical about how Beijing’s getting so much information out there. I guess if I’m curious enough I could just bowl up to Chaoyangmen subway station, find Exit A, and see what I can see… Or is Tiantan Dongmen closer? Much of a muchness, I suspect, but I’d much rather head to Tiantan Dongmen than Chaoyangmen. That part of the city is still built on a humane level.