Shared bikes in China have made short-distance transportation more convenient. However, they have also generated many problems, and one of the main public disturbances is disorderly shared-bike parking.
According to a report by the news portal sohu.com in April, hundreds of shared bikes were parked on the sidewalk at the gate of the Beijing Children's Hospital. The bikes obstructed public transportation, and pedestrians were forced to walk in the bicycle lane along with other non-motorized vehicles, causing safety issues and traffic congestion.
This is a familiar scene in cities across the country with shared bikes.
According to a report by cnr.cn, China's national radio station, as of December 2017, Beijing has accumulated 2,350,000 shared bikes, while the city can only accommodate 830,000 to 1,040,000 shared bikes.
Many cities and regions have come up with various methods to solve the share-bike problem.
Butlers for shared bikes
Some regions have resorted to a more traditional yet effective measure.
In Shijingshan district, the local government hired security staff to serve as butlers for shared bikes in populated areas such as subway stations.
The "butlers" will direct the users on where to park, manage the shared bikes and park them in an orderly fashion.
Electronic parking stations
Besides traditional measures, other regions have resorted to technological measures to solve the problem.
In Tongzhou district, 759 electronic parking stations for shared bikes have been installed, according to a recent report by the Beijing News.
"If the user doesn't park their shared bike in the electronic parking station, they cannot finish the trip and close out the ride," said an official in the Beijing News report.
The Tongzhou government requires that all shared bike companies must use the electronic parking stations.
According to the Beijing News report, other districts in Beijing such as Dongcheng, Xicheng, Haidian, Chaoyang and Daxing have all launched the electronic parking stations for shared bikes or marked designated areas, that users can see on their bike apps, to park their bikes in. In addition, where you park your bike is also linked to your credit score on shared bike accounts.
For example, when a user parks their shared bike inside the designated area, they will receive a message on their phone informing them that they have received two points of credit, and points will be deducted for parking in undesignated areas.
Zhang Tingkai, an expert in the public rental bike industry, believes that electronic parking stations for shared bikes could lower the cost for shared bike companies in the management and dispatching of the bikes. In addition, it will help the users form better habits when using and parking shared bikes, according to the same Beijing News report.
"It's a good thing for both the companies and the users. Through setting up electronic parking stations, the convenience level of shared bikes will not be influenced," Zhang said.
Liu Daizong, the director of the transportation department of Work Resources Institute, suggested in the report that the government could set up no-parking areas where users can't close their trips and the fees will continue to rack up as long as they are parked there. On the other hand, users who are willing to park in the designated areas could get a fee deduction.