Tackling the task of ferrying shared bikes

Xu Fang
A group of people in yellow waistcoats travel back and forth through the streets of Jiading, transferring shared bikes where they are needed. They are called bike ferrymen.
Xu Fang

A group of people in yellow waistcoats travel back and forth through Jiading's streets, moving shared bikes to places where more citizens need them. They are known as the bike ferrymen.

At 9:30am, Cao Zezhong, a bike ferryman with the Meituan Shared Bikes, was skillfully unlocking shared bikes scattered near Nanxiang Hospital with a mobile phone.

"I am in charge of road inspection in the Nanxiang area. If we see too many shared bikes, we transport them to community entrances for the residents' convenience," Cao explained.

It takes skill to move the bikes. Cao first aligns the bike pedals in the same direction before loading them onto the vehicle. That way, the bikes will not become entangled.

Unlocking, positioning, loading and unloading – are their routine tasks.

Every day, they relocate the bikes from prohibited areas to legal areas and space them out in various locations during peak hours.

During the morning and evening rush hours, the number of bikes that need to be moved increases.

"At least 30 times a day," Cao said.

Sometimes they start early in the morning and don't finish until late at night.

Tackling the task of ferrying shared bikes
Yang Jujie

Bikes left on the streets are loaded onto a truck and moved to other areas of the district.

Cao received a message after a busy morning that shared bikes had piled up around Nanxiang Yuntongxing Fortune Plaza. He immediately left for the plaza because bike ferrymen are required to respond to messages within five minutes and arrive at the location within half an hour.

When Cao arrived at the site, Chen Jiajun, who was born after 2000, joined him. Chen quit his job as an interior designer in Shanxi Province to work as a bike ferryman in Shanghai.

"Working outside must be more difficult than working indoors," Chen said. "However, I like the job because I have freedom."

When I was a newcomer, Cao taught me how to move and place the bikes by hand. At first, my arm ached after one day of work, but now I'm getting used to it," Chen added.

The upbeat young man sees the demanding job as an opportunity to strengthen his body.

The bike ferrymen must also remove the small advertisements that have been pasted on various parts of the bikes. Some can be ripped by hand, while others must be scratched with a fingernail. It requires patience and hard work.

Tackling the task of ferrying shared bikes
Yang Jujie

The bike ferrymen also have to remove illegal and unwanted stickers.

"Chen is known among our colleagues as a 'living map,' because even though he hasn't worked for a long time, he remembers every parking spot as long as he has been there," Cao said. "No matter which picture is sent to our WeChat work group, he can pinpoint the exact location."

After loading the bikes onto the trucks, the pair moved on to the next location.

Even when Chen is not at work, he will return the bikes to their proper locations if he notices any bike that has collapsed, or is not in its proper position. Dispatching the bikes and putting them in order has become a way of life for him.

"I hope everyone takes care of the shared bikes and enjoys their convenience," said the young man.

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