Districts authorities curb flood of shared bikes on streets

Local authorities are working to clear shared bikes that block walkways and transportation hubs as part of a city-wide crackdown on the city’s booming bike sharing services.

Local district authorities are working to clear shared bikes that block walkways and transportation hubs as part of a city-wide crackdown on the city’s booming bike sharing services.

The city's transportation commission launched the crackdown on Thursday last week (September 7) which will last until the end of this month. The crackdown focuses on long complained about issues including illegal parking and the overcrowding of bikes on walkways.

On Wednesday morning, trucks from local district governments and minivans from bike sharing companies carried illegally parked shared bikes away from exits near Longyang Road Metro station. The shared bikes on walkways not only occupied sidewalks for the blind, but had even spread onto the road.

"Longyang Road station is shared by three Metro lines and one maglev line, it is also a transportation hub for buses," said Wang Qi, an official with Pudong New Area's transportation authority. "The human traffic and vehicle traffic is enormous here, and blocked sidewalks can be very dangerous to pedestrians." She added the number of shared bikes here has largely exceeded the area's capacity.

Longyang Metro station receives about 300,000 to 400,000 passengers every day. 

"We won't forbid riders riding bikes to the station," she said. "But it is also the bike sharing companies' responsibility to move the excess bikes away in time. However, the operating companies' capacity to move the bikes lags far behind the speed of the flood of bicycles, as they do not have enough trucks or staffers to relocate the bikes."

According to Wang, the district has about 172,000 shared bikes, which are mainly focused in the downtown area. The authority prepared a space of about 48,000 square meters recently to store the cleared shared bikes, which can house about 50,000 to 70,000 bikes.

She added that nearly 1,400 bikes had been cleared from the streets and moved to the space during Sunday and Monday.

The bike companies can reclaim their bikes by paying the related moving and parking costs.

Wang added the district government is looking closely at local parking resources and aims to increase the parking spots downtown for non-motor vehicles by 400 from the existing 5,000 parking spaces.

The authority is also measuring the size of the parking spaces to report to the city’s transportation authority so they can prepare for electronic parking management measures in the future.

A similar crackdown is also underway in Huangpu District, which has many narrow streets and limited parking resources, which can handle at most 70,000 bikes. Besides private bikes, the remaining parking resources can only house at most 20,000 shared bikes. But there are about 50,000 shared bikes in operation in Huangpu, with Mobike and ofo each accounting for 20,000. 

"With the order to stop the launch of new shared bikes, we've found the management of illegal parking is easier than before," Chen Zhen, an official with the district's comprehensive management office said. 

The authority said local officials and staffers of a third-party management company will inform the bike sharing companies via a platform if they see shared bikes taking one third of available parking spaces. If the companies cannot clear their bikes in time, the authority will send trucks to clear the bikes and take them to two special parking lots. The parking lots can house about 8,000 bikes, but they've already hit their limit. Chen said the authority hoped the city government can arrange new parking lots in other districts to house the excess bikes.

Shi Huaqing of Mobike's maintenance department in Huangpu District said the company has increased its maintenance vehicles from 30 to 37 in Huangpu, with each able to carry about 30 bikes a time. It aims to work with the local authority and cut the number of Mobikes to within 10,000 in Huangpu in the near future.

On August 18, the city’s transportation commission sent a note to local bike sharing operators, requiring them to stop launching new bikes in the city and to increase the number of maintenance staff.

Zhang Ningning / SHINE

Volunteers with Huamu Subdistrict in Pudong New Area take excess bikes away from Exit 12 of Longyang Road Metro station on Wednesday morning. Sidewalks near the exit were filled with shared bikes, which not only occupied sidewalks for the blind, but also spread on to the streets.

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