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China Has Almost Half the World's Bike-Share Bicycles

Guess which country has the most bike share programs, the number of which is rising almost exponentially?

Bikes at a bike share station, Hangzhou China

Bikes at a bike share station, Hangzhou China.

Although only a few years ago the answer may have been France, now it is China. In that country there are now over 400,000 bike share bicycles being used throughout many cities, most of them having been installed in the last two years.

A rough estimation would put the number of cycles in bike share schemes around the world at about 822,000, meaning that almost half of them are in China. Coming second, but trailing far behind, is France with around 45,000 bikes.

Graph of the number of bicycles in bike share schemes around the world

The data comes from the Bike-sharing World Map, a database maintained by Russell Meddin and Paul DeMaio. This Google-maps project displays shows 3rd generation (high-tech), 3rd+ generation and mixed 3rd generation/manned bike-sharing services around the world which offer A to B transportation. It is provided in conjunction with The Bike-sharing Blog.

If the question is which cities have the most bikes in their schemes, the top four cities again are in China, with Paris coming fifth, and the next non-Chinese city, London, not appearing until number 18:

World cities with bike sharing schemes ranked by size of scheme

China is urbanizing fast and suffering from terrible air-pollution problems. In some cities schools have to be closed on days of really bad air pollution, power stations are forced to shut down, and thousands of days' work are lost due to illness. Congestion is also a serious problem.

The more people can be shifted onto bikes the better, both in terms of their health and air quality due to the pollution avoided.

There are eight cities in China with more bike share bicycles than the entire United States. It is very impressive how quickly China has implemented these schemes. It is to be hoped that other urbanizing areas of the developing world emulate their practice.

No bike-share fatalities in the US

There are 36 bike share programs currently operating in the US. According to research by Reuters there has not been a single fatality of a cyclist in any of these schemes.

This is despite dire warnings given out before their implementation – as with New York's Citi Bike program –  that cyclists were a threat to public safety. Last June it was reported that in bike share cities, both total injuries and head injuries that result from biking decreased after the programs were introduced — despite the total number of miles biked increasing significantly.

According to the Bike-sharing World Map, there are bike share schemes in operation in 730 cities around the world with 223 cities planning or constructing such schemes. Sadly, 59 cities which used to have schemes no longer operate them.

The website lists them in alphabetical order, giving the number of bikes and stations in each city. Follow the Map on Twitter at @bikesharingmap.