Government removes 11,000 illegally parked bikes in Hong Kong and may wheel out new regulations
Authorities to look into how other cities handle public parking for bikes
Government operations removed about 11,000 illegally parked bikes in Hong Kong in the past year, including 146 operated by sharing services, lawmakers were told on Wednesday.
It came as Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan peddled the possibility of tighter regulations on bike-sharing services in the future.
“We [would not rule out] further regulations on ‘bicycle-sharing’ if necessary, but need to ensure it is pragmatic and viable and will not violate the principle of fair competition,” Chan said, adding the government would look into how other cities handled public parking for bikes.
Between October 1 last year and September 30 this year, a total of 458 joint operations were conducted by various government departments in a bid to remove illegally parked bikes.
Chan said the operations had shown “some deterrent effects”.
Parking has been a problem for bike-sharing operators in the city since such services were first rolled out in April. Complaints of social nuisance were filed by residents after riders left bikes in undesignated areas without facing any consequences.
According to the government, there were about 58,000 public parking spaces for bikes across the city as of the end of last month, with an extra 7,000 to be added, after a consultancy hired by the Transport Department proposed improvements of cycling facilities in 900 locations.
Among the additional spaces, 1,000 are expected to be available for public use by the end of next year, with the implementation timetable of the other 6,000 to be confirmed.
Joseph Sung Yin-bong, founder of bike-sharing operator HobaBike, said the number of parking spaces had been insufficient. Sung said his company had taken extra efforts to ensure its existing 500 bikes were not parked in inappropriate places.
“Whenever our staff identified bikes parked in improper spots, they move them back to legal spaces,” said Sung, adding more than 200 bikes required such relocation every day.
He added that none of his bikes had been removed by authorities.
A spokeswoman for Gobee.bike, another bike-sharing operator, said they welcomed an increase in the number of parking spaces. While they have been educating their riders to follow proper procedures, the operator also hoped the government would do more to foster a bike-friendly environment.
“We have put in place many app features and policies to better deal with the deployment of our fleet, including the expansion of our operations team to 70 people and educating our riders on how to follow proper parking procedures with our incentive scheme and in-app features,” the spokeswoman said.