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The evolution of free-floating bike-sharing in China Authors: Sebastian Ibold, Dr. Christoph Nedopil Review: Sandra Retzer, Tina Huang, Florian Ibold Since the explosive growth of free-floating bike-sharing in China starting in 2016, it has been described as one of the country’s hottest industries. China’s official state-run press agency Xinhua called it one of the “four great new inventions” in modern times (the other three being e-commerce, high-speed rail and mobile-payment). The bike-sharing industry was praised for providing a healthy lifestyle and a key to achieve more sustainable urban transport systems, with the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution significantly. The expectations put on free-floating bike-sharing were no less than reviving the “kingdom of bicycles”. But instead of a smooth bike-ride, the bike sharing industry in China has experienced nothing short of a roller-coaster ride: From 2016 onwards, a growing number of start-ups entered the bike-sharing market, resulting…

Interview with Dr. Wu Yue. Dr. Wu Yue is the chief engineer of the intelligent transport division at the Shenzhen Urban Transport Planning Center (SUTPC). Dr. Wu Yue received his PhD from Tongji University in Shanghai in 1990. Before joining SUTPC 3 years ago, he had been working in Singapore as an intelligent transport engineer. GIZ:How would you describe your role and duties as chief engineer of SUTPC`s intelligence department? Dr. Wu: Generally, I am working as the technology director to guide the research directions of intelligent transport business (ITS), the adviser of important intelligent transport projects of the company, and also developing the partnership with cooperation in ITS supply chain. GIZ:You were working in Singapore in transport planning for more than a decade. What experiences from Singapore would you want to apply in Shenzhen? Dr. Wu: Singapore is an island of 4.8 million people with limited space. Sustainable transport…

There is justified admiration for the scope and speed of China´s construction of its public transportation infrastructure as a form of green urban transportation. In this short article, we want to shed light on the development and status of public rail network in Beijing and Shanghai by comparing their subway infrastructure to the urban public rail infrastructure of the two German cities Berlin and Munich. On first glance, Beijing and Shanghai have over the past years strongly outperformed the two German cities when considering the growth and length of the subway network (see Figure 1). However, as this short article shows: despite the rapid growth from just one subway line with just a bit more than 40 km in length in the 1990s in both Chinese cities to today`s combined 1200 km, there is still need for further development which both cities are working hard on. Short history of the…

Development of Electro Mobility in China The development and use of electric buses in China has risen significantly over the past 5 to 10 years, driven by national energy policies to diversify source of energies and to improve urban air quality. As an additional benefit, decision makers also see the opportunity to promote the domestic automotive industry. In the overall electro mobility development, China has become a global forerunner: it is home to the biggest number of pure electric, hybrid, and hydrogen fuel cells new energy vehicles (NEVs) in the world. The annual sales of NEVs has increased by an average of 86.5% from 2009 to 2017. In 2017 alone, 777,000 electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles were sold, topping the world for three consecutive years according to China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). The number of recorded new energy vehicles in China is 1.8 million, accounting for over half of…

Accessibility and barrier free infrastructures and environments are important indicators for sustainable development. In particular in cities, people who experience disabilities, often face challenges and discrimination regarding the equal participation in using the urban public spaces or infrastructures. This counts especially for public transportation systems. It is often difficult for people with disabilities but also to the elderly to enter subways, railway stations or similar facilities, as these are often not equipped with corresponding facilities, such as elevators, ramps or blind and deaf-friendly signage. To ensure a barrier free development of transportation infrastructure, related facilities and travels, China published a guideline on improving transportation services for the elderly and the disabled. The guideline was jointly released by the MOT, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, the China Disabled Persons’ Federation and four other departments on January 12th, 2018. By this China sets up a guiding framework for the establishment…

In Europe, close cooperation and exchange among cities and countries have a long tradition. Especially in the framework of joint European Union (EU) activities, best practices in sustainable urban mobility are exchanged and innovative ideas spread. Beyond Europe’s borders, transport-related innovations are growing rapidly in developing and emerging countries in the recent years. Not only in mega cities worldwide, decision makers, entrepreneurs and plan­ners are currently testing new approaches to urban mobility – driven by enormous pressures, such as urban sprawl, congestion and air pollution, but also new opportunities related to new digital technologies and rapid economic development. Learning more about their successes as well as potential difficulties may inspire sustainable urban transport develop­ment in Europe and Germany. With the intention to provide a glimpse to the transport innovations of developing and emerging countries and discuss the vision of Tommorow’s Cities in the light of global innovation, the German Environment…

The Chinese economy has continuously seen rapid growth over the past years, which has led to a unique increase in passenger and freight traffic volumes. Every day, 35,000 vehicles are joining more than 120 million existing passenger cars on Chinese roads. Notwithstanding the undoubted significant role of the transport sector to support economic development, the subsequent environmental consequences are severe. In Beijing, for instance, approx. 25-30% of pollutants are emitted by mobile on-road emissions. Hence, the central and local governments are keen on adopting necessary measures in order to lower mobile source emissions. Understanding the source of the problem is key in developing adequate policy measures. This is why the Vehicle Emission Control Centre (VECC) of the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) together with the Sino-German project on Low Carbon Transport and the Environmental Partnership organised a two day workshop from 3rd to 4th March 2016 on Mobile Source…

From the emergence of Chinese carsharing services in 2009 until today, more than 330,000 people signed up for a carsharing membership in China – equivalent to almost one third of the total number of carsharing members in Germany, one of the world’s largest carsharing markets. Considering that carsharing in China is still at an embryonic stage, its dynamic development indicates potential for further growth. Nevertheless, public and political awareness of carsharing are still low, its legal conditions are unclear and uncertainties related to the feasibility of large-scale applications remain. In this context the Research Institute of Highway (RIOH) with the support of GIZ carried out a study on the legal conditions for carsharing services in China. The results of the study were presented at the one day workshop “Feasibility of Carsharing Concepts in China: Analysis of the Political and Legal Framework” on 28 January 2016, organised in a round table…

Air pollution, congestion, traffic accidents – the list of negative effects of the constantly growing volume of vehicle traffic in Beijing is long. Despite several policies that restrict vehicle registration and usage, between 2010 and 2014 alone the number of private passenger cars in the Chinese capital Beijing grew from 4.5 to 5.6 million vehicles. This makes transport also a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. But during the same time the vehicle fleet growth rate also lowered from ten to three percent annually demonstrating some first success of urban transport policies in Beijing. One promising approach to reduce emissions is transport demand management (TDM) attempting to control demand through measures to reduce the need to travel by car (avoid) and move car drivers to sustainable modes (shift). It is an integral part of sustainable urban transport strategies and is complementary to better urban planning and clean vehicles. With the…

It is not new that China currently is undergoing rapid urbanisation processes. Hence, it is essential for the populous Chinese cities to develop comprehensive and integrated public transport networks in order to cope with the continuously increasing mobility demand. However, this results in additional financial burdens, which in many cases are challenging to overcome. It is even more difficult when such additional expenditures have to be undertaken by local authorities, which in most of the cases depend on the national budget. The question of how to finance urban public transport is critical in the Chinese context, as the national budget law, the major financing mechanism for public transport in China, cannot meet the cities’ demand for sustainable funding anymore. In order to take a step forward towards changing the way the public transport sector requests and receives funds, China Urban Sustainable Transport Research Centre (CUSTReC) organised a workshop on “Sustainable…