Hoi An ancient town in central Vietnam has recently launched a pilot bicycle sharing program in a cooperative arrangement between the Hoi An People’s Committee, the German Development Cooperation Agency (GIZ), Health Bridge Canada, and the World Resources Institute.

The program aims to encourage residents to move from petrol power to pedal power as an environmentally-friendly transport solution, to preserve the heritage and tourist sites in the town and contribute to its efforts to build a green tourism site and protect the environment.

The bicycle sharing program offers about 100 bicycles at eleven parking spots in the town’s center at the moment. From July, there will be an additional 160 bicycles and ten parking spots. After a three-month pilot, the town will hold a review before officially introducing the service.

Bicycles are equipped with GPS navigation and an open lock system with a QR code via the QIQ global mobile app. Users can download the app to use the bicycles free of charge for the first 30 minutes and then VND20,000 ($0.86) for every subsequent hour.

Payment is made via the electronic payment system on the app, from the user’s bank account or QIQ’s coupons sold at many places around town.

The program is part of the “Establishing a Comprehensive Bicycle Plan and a Free/Low-Cost Bicycle Sharing Program in Hoi An” project. The project won the Global Urban Mobility Challenge Award of the Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative (TUMI), held by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development last year, and received 178,000 euro ($201,000) in investment from GIZ.

Together with the bicycle sharing program, the project also includes the development of safe traffic infrastructure, with lanes for riders. It targets raising the rate of people riding bicycles in the town from 4 per cent at the moment to 40 per cent by 2025.

Hoi An has implemented a number of activities to achieve its goal of building an eco-cultural-tourism city based on preserving and promoting its values of history, culture, and ecological resources as well as improving the quality of life for its people. It encourages local people and tourists to reduce the use of motor vehicles and increase travel by walking and bicycle riding. Developing bicycle traffic is regarded as a means towards sustainable and environmentally-friendly traffic, protecting the town’s landscapes.

Hoi An welcomed nearly 5 million visitors last year, including 3.8 million foreigners, up 51 per cent and 91 per cent, respectively, against 2017.