Ttareungi, Seoul’s public bicycle-sharing system, is an unmanned bicycle rental system that was introduced in October 2015. You can use a mobile app to find the closest rental station around Seoul, and conveniently borrow and return the bicycle after use.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) analyzed big data on the use of Ttareungi bicycles in 2020 and announced the major results. According to the analysis, the use of Ttareungi bicycles by Seoul citizens drastically surged in 2020 while having to live a life in coexistence with COVID-19. The total number of its rentals increased by 24% to 23.705 million. This means that each citizen of Seoul used Ttareungi more than twice. Between February and April, when COVID-19 was widespread for the first time, the usage increased by as much as 59.1% compared to the same period of the previous year. In March, the usage rose by 74.4%, which is the highest rate. August was the only month when the usage declined because of the longest rainy season in history.
Daily Average Rentals By Month/Year
The number of Ttareungi members greatly surged as well. It exceeded 2.786 million, which means one in four Seoul citizens became a member. The number of newly joined members was 1.207 million, the greatest since the beginning of the service. While young people in their 20s and 30s preferred to join the membership (64.7%), middle-aged people in their 50s and 60s were using the service more often.
The usage pattern according to time and day was also analyzed to look into when and for what purposes citizens used Ttareungi. They used the service more often on weekdays than weekends, and the use by 54% of users was concentrated in commuting hours, which showed Ttareungi played the role of “First-Last Mile” that connects the gap before and after the use of public transportation. Many users rented bicycles near subway stations, including Magoknaru Station and Yeouinaru Station, and returned them in business districts, including Yeouido.
“First Mile” refers to the first travel section from home until taking the subway or bus while “Last Mile” refers to the last travel section to reach the final destination. The former and the latter imply using the bicycle when going to a bus stop or subway station from home and when going to the destination after taking off the public transportation.
Most people rented a bicycle at a rental station near a subway station during the hours they get to work (7 AM–9 AM). It seems that they used the bicycle to travel from the subway station to the business district. After work (6 PM–8 PM), rentals and returns were made near riverside, including that of the Hangang River, or subway stations. It is assumed that people used the bicycle for exercise and leisure in the evening.
The autonomous districts where Ttareungi was rented the most was Gangseo-gu, Yeongdeungpo-gu, and Songpa-gu in order. They share the common aspects that there are business districts, such as Magok, Yeouido, and Munjeong districts, and they have well-established bicycle lanes. This reminds us of the importance of infrastructure like bicycle lanes.
The SMG analyzed that Ttareungi was positioned as a daily mode of transportation as Seoul citizens loved to use the bicycle as a contactless mode of transportation for social distancing.
In line with the tendency, the SMG has expanded the number of Ttareungi bicycles to a total of 37,500 and rental stations to a total of 3,040. The scale of the service is the largest among all local governments in the nation. The SMG also enhanced the convenience for users. It has introduced 2,000 “Saessak” Ttareungi bicycles with reduced size and weight, lowering the age limit to 13 and providing users with choices according to their age and physique. QR-type Ttareungi using IoT technology was introduced as well.
The SMG is conducting thorough disinfection and sterilization for Ttarengi as it is a shared facility for unspecified users. Regular disinfection is being carried out for all rental stations, where two hand sanitizers are in place. All Ttareungi bicycles are collected and their handles and display are sterilized with eco-friendly disinfectant before being returned to the rental station.