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March 2, 2017

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Cycling boom creates a parking headache

THE boom in rental bicycles is creating challenges for parking around the city, Huangpu District authorities said yesterday, adding they were consulting bike companies and other involved groups.

Four thousand bikes have been confiscated and stored in a parking lot in Zhizaoju Road by a company hired by the district government.

Most of the bikes are from Mobike, the leading rental company.

Mobike told Shanghai Daily yesterday it was negotiating with the parking company and district authorities.

The district government said complaints about illegal parking are increasing. Some customers even leave bikes in the middle of the road.

“The number of complaint calls to the 12345 Citizens’ Hotline alone reached more than 30,” said Zhou Lan, an official with the Huangpu District Comprehensive Management Commission. The number of bike sharing companies operating in Huangpu has increased to seven from four last year.

The district government has hired two companies to manage parking spaces since 2010 for about 120,000 bikes.

“The skyrocketing number of shared bikes flooding in over the past few months leaves no space for residents to park their own bikes,” said Yi Guangzhi, general manager with the Shanghai Huangpu District Vehicle Parking Management Company. The company also confiscates private bicycles parked illegally.

“But private owners will remember not to park illegally again after picking up the bikes once, while the bike sharing companies won’t,” he said. “And we will return the bikes to the companies in the end anyway.”

Zhou said the government held a meeting with bike rental operators, parking management companies and local authorities in December to address the problem.

“We will keep working with the different parties to find a better solution, including looking at how many bikes Huangpu can handle,” he said. “If there is a drop in the number of private bikes, we can lift the cap on the shared bikes.”

Bu Shengyuan, an executive with one of the parking management companies said parking spaces could be expanded, but the cost must be shared by the bike rental companies.

The Shanghai Bike Industry Association said the city has 12 Internet-based bike rental companies and about 280,000 bikes.

“If one public bike for every 50 residents can meet the city’s needs, the maximum capacity the city can handle is about 500,000,” said the association’s general secretary, Guo Jianrong.

Guo said the booming bike rental industry was meeting residents’ transport needs and should be encouraged by local authorities.

“In the instance of Huangpu, as the parking management companies are hired by the government, they should ask the local government to cover the increasing management costs rather than recovering it from the bike sharing companies directly,” Guo said.

He said local governments should invest more in managing parking facilities and bike companies should better manage their bikes.

But Guo said the bike companies don’t have enough staff to manage and maintain their bikes.

“There’s a company with over 100,000 bikes in Shanghai, but only 50 people to operate and maintain them, which of course causes trouble,” he said.


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