Action stems cascade of electrical charging cables

Electric cables dangling down from residential buildings in Tonghe Qicun have been much reduced due to concerted community efforts.

Moves are underway at one local community to get rid of the electric cables that dangle down from apartment buildings when e-bikes are being charged.

In Tonghe Qicun, more bike parking slots, smart charging sockets and intensive campaigns to educate residents about the hazards of irregular e-bike charging have yielded positive results.

Last year, there were no e-bike thefts or fires caused by private e-bike charging in the neighborhood, according to police in Baoshan District.

In this 20-year-old neighborhood with about 1,200 households, cascades of electric cables down residential buildings have finally become a thing of the past.

It was both an eyesore and a huge threat to the neighborhood’s safety, but the problem couldn’t have been solved without breaking a vicious cycle.

“The property management company was supposed to fund solutions to the problem, but it had no money because residents who were dissatisfied with the messy neighborhood refused to pay for the company’s service,” said Zhu, the community police officer in the neighborhood.

Ti Gong

Zhu instructs a resident on how to charge his e-bike from the new smart socket at a parking shed in Tonghe Qicun.

After intensive consultations early last year, the Zhangmiao subdistrict government became the “prime mover” by funding a project to overhaul e-bike charging in the neighborhood.

Zhu said it was the first time the subdistrict government had funded such projects.

Now 300 e-bike parking slots, a third more than previously, are offered to residents in three parking sheds. There the residents can charge their bikes for four hours for 1 yuan (16 US cents). When the batteries are full, charging will stop automatically so as to prevent overcharging.

Eight community volunteers patrol the neighborhood during the day to spot and correct irregular charging outside and inside the buildings, and police warn residents that they face fines of up to 500 yuan for violations.

Property management staff also inform any new residents about the dangers of irregular e-bike charging.

Residents are still allowed to park their e-bikes outside the buildings where the entrance is not blocked because some people say they charge their e-bikes at work and don’t need a parking space in the neighborhood, Zhu said.

But the number of dangling cables has been much reduced.

Ti Gong

At the neighborhood, some residents still drop wires down the building to charge their e-bikes, with some protecting the wires from the rain with plastic bottles.

A woman surnamed Shen still charges her e-bike through a long cable from her apartment.

“I know it’s dangerous, but there are no more slots in the parking sheds, and I have no strength to carry the heavy battery up and down the stairs to charge it elsewhere,” she told Shanghai Daily.

Regarding the new proposal to create some “shared parking slots,” a man surnamed Hu, who is in charge of one of the parking sheds in the neighborhoods, said he didn't think it was feasible.

“The residents pay 10 yuan a month to have their e-bikes parked here and expect that they can take out and park the e-bikes anytime they want,” he said.

The example set by Tonghe Qicun has been introduced to several nearby neighborhoods, and it’s not alone in seeking solutions to the e-bike problem.

It’s strictly prohibited to park and charge e-bikes on public corridors, staircases and emergency exits, the Ministry of Public Security reiterated in a notice issued at the end of last year which has been posted in many neighborhoods in Shanghai.

While punishments are often handed out to companies or management of public places for violating the rule, individuals are not usually targeted, but they’re now faced with stricter law enforcement.

In the Pudong New Area and Songjiang District, fire authorities have already started to fine offenders caught at the scene. In Songjiang, from mid-January, about 1,900 residents have been fined up to 50 yuan for the offense with 500 others warned.

Ti Gong

A resident in Huayuanbang neighborhood is fined 20 yuan for parking his e-bike in a public space at the residential building on January 16.

Special Reports