Beijing applies brakes on shared bicycles to stop problems including improper parking

Pedestrians walking past shared bicycles on a sidewalk in Beijing, on Aug 3, 2017.
Pedestrians walking past shared bicycles on a sidewalk in Beijing, on Aug 3, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Beijing has decided to stop adding new shared bicycles to the city's streets and to strengthen the management of existing bikes.

The decision was made after an exchange of opinions with the directors of 15 shared bike companies, and all said they "fully understand" and would comply, according to a statement from the Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport on Thursday (Sept 7).

The city has 15 shared bicycle companies and more than 2.3 million shared bikes, it said.

"While they make travel more convenient, too many bikes causes problems such as improper parking, especially near bus and subway stations and in shopping districts," the statement said. "Therefore the commission decided to halt new bikes and will begin to tackle improper parking."

A foreigner near the capital's Sanlitun area who identified himself as Paul said everyone benefits when the bikes are parked in "proper, decent places".

"The sidewalks have been taken over by these bikes, which is forcing pedestrians into the street," he said.

Professor Zhu Dajian at Tongji University who helped the Shanghai Bicycle Association review its initial standards for shared bikes, said the halt on new bikes comes as the market for shared bikes has became saturated.

"It's high time we improve the turnover rate of existing bikes rather than continuing to put more bikes onto the streets," said Prof Zhu. "Excessive bikes on the streets will no doubt lead to problems, and more efficient use of the bikes is the key."

The statement also said the commission discourages the development of shared electric bicycles, considering road conditions, the need for charging equipment and safety concerns.

Eleven other cities in China, including Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Wuhan have put the brakes on shared bikes. On Aug 3, the central government released a guideline urging city governments to set up parking zones for the bikes and to punish misbehaviour.