Over the past few years, bike-sharing programs have popped up all across the world. Designed to improve accessibility and reduce traffic, the programs have been a success in many major cities in Europe and the U.S. In Taipei, however, the program has been a homerun.
Launched in 2009, the country’s YouBike system had many struggles early on but just last week hit an amazing milestone – 10 million rentals. Growing from an average of just one rental a day in 2009 to now more than 60,000 daily, the company has flourished by listening and responding to criticism and suggestions from the public and municipal authorities.
To cater to individuals looking to take an unplanned, spontaneous ride on one of the system’s brightly colored bikes, YouBike streamlined the registration system. Using their mobile phone at YouBike kiosks, individuals can sign-up for the service and pay for the bike on the spot using their EasyCard, a popular stored-value smartcard in Taipai.
With the help of this system, nearly 40 percent of the city’s 2.7 million residents have registered. In addition to improving the sign-up process, YouBike has also spread the service more widely around the city and now offers nearly 4,100 bikes, up from just 500 in 2009. To encourage more people to ride, YouBike also offers 30 free minutes of riding after registration is complete. Riders are then charged in half-hour increments.
According to a story in the South China Morning Post, the program really took off at the end of 2012 with 670,000 rentals, double the total of the first three years, between August and November. Due to high demand – some kiosks have actually run out of bikes at peak times – the company has a plan to increase the number of stations and the number of bikes by next year which is expected to push the number of rentals past the 20 million mark.
In the USA, as well as on Taiwan, biking is a great way to see areas in a way that’s just not the same as from an automobile. Find a bike rental business near you or at your travel destination by clicking here.