Saturday, December 18, 2010

Less carbon, more bicycles in Shanghai

In China making a difference between official rhetoric and reality is often tough. But what I saw this morning in Shanghai is real: an extensive orange bicycle program that allows citizens literally to take a free ride. Just outside the compound where I stay for the time being, I found this row of orange bicycles.
They are part of a municipal program to reduce the carbon imprint and reduce the pressure on the traffic on four wheels. Later I saw more of those rows and most subway stations have one, people told me. It is meant for local citizens who have to register with their neighborhood committee, they will get an electronic card to release the bikes without any charge.
An overnight maintenance team makes sure the bikes remain in a good condition. The program is not meant for tourist and you will find the bikes only in the suburbs, not in the city center (where the local government often tries to get rid of bicycles).
According to my informants the bikes are pretty popular; anything in Shanghai that is for free would be popular, of course.
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