We've talked about Korea's plans for green growth and chainless electric bikes on our blog before, and now a city in southeastern Korea is getting a lot of attention for its efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
According to the Chosun Ilbo, Changwon started a public bicycle rental scheme, called "Nubija" (meaning "to go here and there" ) in 2008. Since then, it's seen a total of 4.63 million uses, statistically implying that every one of the city's 1.8 million residents used the system at least four times.
For a small annual fee of 20,000 KRW (approximately 18 USD), members can have access to 4,630 public bikes parked throughout 230 terminals in the city. According to the Korea Times, Changwon also has the highest percentage of bicycle-only lanes in the country.
The bikes are high-tech and convenient; each bike is equipped with GPS and their positions can be tracked in real time, making it possible to rent them 24 hours a day anywhere in the city.
The public rental system is proving to be popular with the likes of students and part-time chauffeurs. 95.6 percent of Changwon citizens rated the system positively in a survey last year and the number of users per day grow exponentially each year.
The city was the first to offer an accident insurance policy for cyclists in Korea. It also created a monetary incentive system for workers to commuting with the bike rental system and even created a new bicycle-riding day.
The system has also been used as a benchmark for U.S. cities, according to Changwon City's official blog, as delegates from Changwon City visited the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) to inform officials on the Nubija system.
I plan to take up biking myself, having recently bought a foldable mini velo. Stay tuned to see where I take my bike around Korea! Feel free to leave suggestions for where you'd like to read about in the comments.
Born and raised in the States, I came to Seoul in 2009 and have loved living and working in such a high-tech and connected city ever since. I enjoy collecting unique, cute gadgets/items (I have a bread-scented smartphone case!) and traveling around Korea. My personal mission while living in Korea: Try every type of Korean food known to exist.
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2015 51st PaekSang Arts Awards