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How to rent a bike in Hangzhou

Hangzhou Public Bicycle is a bicycle sharing system serving the city of Hangzhou. As of January 5, 2013, with 66,500 bicycles operating from 2,700 stations,it is the largest bike sharing system in the world, and is one of 19 currently operating bike-sharing systems in China. It is the first bike-sharing system in China. It plans to expand to 175,000 bikes by 2020.

Due to growing motorized traffic congestion and concerns over the environment, the Hangzhou Public Transport Corporation launched bike-sharing on May 1, 2008, initially starting with 2,800 bicycles, 30 fixed stations, and 30 mobile stations (stations which can be moved to meet demand).In March 2011, it had 60,600 bicycles, and 2,416 stations. In The Hangzhou government invested 180 million yuan ($26.35 million) to launch the program, and 270 million yuan ($39.53 million) in discounted loans.

The purpose of the Hangzhou bike-sharing system is to provide a free public bike system network for residents and tourists; the bikes act as a feeder into its public transit network.Hangzhou bike-sharing uses the concept of the last mile (or the last kilometer) to make sure that users can easily get from public transit stops to their destinations through bikes to complete their journey.

Riding a bike is one of the most beautiful, environmentally friendly, and traffic-free ways to get around Hangzhou. Fortunately, the city has an advanced public bike system that allows you to rent and return a bike in just about anywhere. This guide will show you how to rent a bike, which requires a public transit card.

Step 1: Getting a Public Transit Card (杭州通卡)

hangzhou-tong-ka.jpg

Buying a Card – The easiest way to get started is to buy the green Hangzhou “Tong Ka” (杭州通卡). This card is available for only 20 RMB and can also be charged at any citizen card service center, many subway stations, large bus stations, main Agricultural Bank of China and ICBC bank locations, and convenience stores such as Shi Zu, C-Store, Family Mart, and Youeasy  (十足/喜士多/全家/祐驿站). If you can read some basic Chinese, this link has a great map of all the locations you can buy/charge the card at.

convenience-stores-charge-public-transport-card-hangzhou.jpg

Important: When you buy the card, you do not need to bring ID, which is easy, but also makes it so there’s no way to get your money back if you lose the card. Be careful and keep it protected in a good place such as your wallet, purse, etc. You may be able to scan it through those without needing to take it out each time.

About the Card – With the Hangzhou Tong Ka, you can not only rent a public bicycle, but you can also use it to pay for the bus, subway, some taxis, water bus, and groceries at the above-mentioned convenience stores. When you use it for public transport, you also receive a 9% discount, so save your coins for something else!

If you would like to rent a bike, make sure you have at least 200 RMB charged. 300 RMB is a good amount to start with, just in case you need to take the bus as well.

Replacing / Refunding Your Card – Although you do not leave your name or ID number when you buy the card, there are ways to replace it (if it is broken), or to refund it. If you would like to do either, you must go to the Citizen Card Service Center at 25 Ding’An Rd (map w/ directions) 定安路25号 and bring your passport or ID.

Ok, you’ve got your public transit card, and now it’s on to the easy part: renting a bike.

Step 2: Renting & Returning a Public Bike

hangzhou-public-bike-rental-station.jpg

How to Rent
After getting the card, you can rent a bicycle at any public bicycle spot in Hangzhou, and return it at any service spot. When renting bike, you just need to put your card on the electric locker. When the light turns to green and the buzzer beeps you need to take the bike out of the locker within 30 seconds. A CNY200 deposit is required to rent the bike. This deposit minus the rental fee is returned when the bike is secured a locker at any service spot.

How to Return
When returning the bike, you need to firstly make the bike locked by the electric locker, and put your card on the locker when the green light is on. The return of the bike is a success when the green light stops shining and the buzzer beeps.

Rental Prices: Renting a bike is really cheap. If you return the bike to a station within one hour, it’s free. Here’s a quick price list:

0-59 minutes (1st hour)Free
60-119 minutes (2nd hour)1 yuan
120-179 minutes (3rd hour)2 yuan
180-239 (4th hour)3 yuan
240-299 (5th hour)6 yuan

** From the 5th hour onwards, rates will increase by 3 yuan every hour. (E.g. 300-359 minutes, 6th hour is 9 yuan, 360-419 minutes, 7th hour is 12 yuan, etc.). 

** If you take public transport during your rental time, tap your bicycle rental card upon boarding the bus to pause the timing, which will stop for 90 minutes. It will resume counting after 90 minutes, regardless of how long your bus ride took. In short, your free rental for the use of the bicycle will be extended by 90 minutes if you take public transport, thus allowing you a total of 150 minutes of free rental time. 

Here’s a map of rental stations (Baidu)

Returning bikes at night: Rental stations are open from 6am to 10pm. If you need to return a bike later than that, you must find a 24 hour rental kiosk. Here’s a link to a list of 24 hour rental stations (in Chinese).

Note: If your bike gets stolen, go to the nearest manned service center immediately.

And that’s it. You are now able to rent a bike and enjoy the amazing scenery of Hangzhou with the wind in your hair. Ride safely!

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