Starting last October 2015, Seoul City has officially been providing bicycle rental service on a full-scale. When you visit the website of Seoul Bicycle, it is introduced as, “Seoul Bicycle is an unmanned rental system that anyone can easily and conveniently use anywhere, anytime.” It also explains that the rental places include subway entrances, bus stops, and residential areas. In the website, it mentions selected places that are convenient for the citizens to use easily and also plans to expand its reach. Ttareungyi’s use is also gradually increasing. On October 13, 2017, Jin Seon-mi, who is part of the Public Administration and Security Committee and member of The Minjoo Party of Korea, discussed that the among the four gates (84 rental places), the number of Ttareungyi usages has increased from 378,092 cases in 2016 to 527,761 cases in September 2017.
However, there were many questions that we weren’t able to understand just from the data provided by the Seoul Bicycle Ttareungyi’s website. That is why we met with Action Officer Lee Jeong-seop from the Seoul Metropolitan City’s Urban Transit Headquarters in Seosomun City Hall Office, and then asked seven questions. The questions were crafted by collecting the citizens’ opinions found on the bulletin board of the Seoul Bicycle Ttareungyi’s website and by referring to various news articles. In addition, we were curious about the blueprint of Ttareungyi, which cannot be found on the website. We first thanked him for agreeing to an interview, then began asking the questions.
(Seosomun City Hall Office) (Seoul Metropolitan City’s Urban Transit Office)
#What is the purpose of Ttareungyi? The management issues of Ttareungyi, and the opinions of the citizens towards Ttareungyi
Share Hub: It mentions on the website that Ttareungyi is a system tailored to the trend of green growth. I’m curious if the motif stems from the policies of other countries. I’m also wondering what the specific purpose of Ttareungyi is.
Action Officer Lee Jeong-seop: Ttareungyi is the Seoul Bicycle name. Besides Korea, public bicycles are being operated in over 530 cities worldwide. It is not a policy unique to Seoul. However, the operating system of Ttareungyi is unique to Seoul City. In order to simplify the bicycle rental system, we have digitized many functions, and integrated the rental functionality into an app. Moreover, the purpose of Ttareungyi is not in the bicycle sharing business or leisure, but rather for people to become interested in bikes, and for Ttareungyi to be used as a mode of transportation within Seoul City. The ultimate goal is for bicycles to claim the status of becoming one of the means of transportation, besides cars and buses.
I understand that there are many Ttareungyi bicycles in Seoul City. I’m curious to know how the bicycles are particularly managed.
The Seoul Facilities Corporation acts as an agency. The Seoul Facilities Corporation is affiliated with the Seoul Metropolitan Government. A number of people, including those who maintain bicycles and those in charge of counseling, etc., are trying their best to manage Ttareungyi.
What is the most common complaint about Ttareungyi? When I looked at the citizens’ opinions through the bulletin board, it seems like most of the complaints are related to the rental place expansion.
The most is regarding the expansion of rental places. We also receive a lot of policy proposals, payment system complaints, and refund complaints. Moreover, those who do not understand the concept of public bicycles often submit a complaint as well. It should be used as a mode of transportation that must be returned every hour, but there are still many people who think of it purposely leisure l.
#Questions about the operation of Ttareungyi
What was the most difficult part about operating Ttareungyi?
The most difficult part of operating Ttareungyi is the expansion of infrastructure. Typically, there are bicycle roads. However, there are many difficulties in creating the originally existing road spaces as bicycle roads in Seoul. In addition, it is expensive to create bike roads in existing roads.
(Ttareungyi rental place with no roof, photo courtesy of Seoul Bicycle Ttareungyi’s website)
There’s no roof for Ttareungyi, so how do you deal with rain or snow?
By default, Ttareungyi rental places have no roofs. During the winter, we place Ttareungyi indoors. Furthermore, the body of Ttareungyi is made of a rust-resistant material. In addition, materials that have already rusted are replaced. The reason why Ttareungyi has no roof is as follows: the rental places for Ttareungyi are located within walking distance for accessibility. If we were to install roofs or awnings in these places, it will interfere with walking. It could also damage the visibility of the people by obstructing the view.
I’m curious as to why the policy to provide other safeguards with Ttareungyi was not considered.
It isn’t possible to borrow protective kits and helmets unmanned. An unmanned rental system is required, but this is practically impossible. The bicycles are digitized and mobile phone apps are available for people to return it. In the case of the helmets, it may become smelly if it gets wet from the rain, and there is a high possibility of it causing hygiene problems.
# The future of Ttareungyi
This is the last question. I’m curious as to what kind of role Ttareungyi will play in the future of Seoul City. What kind of policy will you implement for Ttareungyi, moving forward?
The purpose of introducing Seoul Bicycle Ttareungyi is to provide bicycles as a daily means of transportation. I would like Ttareungyi to blend into the lives of Seoul City’s citizens so that they can ride bicycles in their daily lives, rather than riding bicycles for a specific purpose. Moving forward, we would like to change the interface by considering the opinions of people, and I hope that Ttareungyi will be used a lot for advertisements.
In many ways, it was an interview that gave us answers to our curiosities with Ttareungyi. After the interview, as I was leaving the Seosomun City Hall Office, I was thinking of how nice it would be for Ttareungyi to become the daily mode of transportation in Seoul City, as what the public bicycle team is hoping for. This is due to the fact that Ttareungyi can reduce pollution and also traffic congestion. I have yet to ride it and have only seen it on the road so far, but I desire to use it when I get the chance.