News and Travel Editor
China is known as the ‘Kingdom of the Bicycle’ and so it came as no surprise to us that it also hosts the biggest bike-sharing scheme in the world, according to figures by the Earth Policy Institute.
But can you guess which city? Nope, not Beijing or Shanghai….
Enter Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province in East China, and home to 9 million people. In Chinese terms, it’s a small city and perfect for cycling! Research shows that three bikes are hired every second, with the bikes rented out around 114 million times in total in 2015.
Known as Hangzhou’s ‘little red bikes’, you can take your pick from around 84,000 of them, all of which are free for the first hour. By 2020 the total number of bikes is set to grow to 175,000.
To find out more, we joined bike mechanic Qiu Shaohua as he went about his work fixing and maintaining bikes. He got the job in 2010, when Hangzhou had a mere 30,000 bikes and in the last six years he’s seen that number almost triple.
Qiu mends around 30 bikes a day but it hasn’t damped his passion for cycling – he still spends his weekends riding to iconic places like the UNESCO listed West Lake.
Have you cycled in China, the ‘Kingdom of the Bicycles’? Let us know how you found it in the comments below.