Several hutong near Beijing's Shichahai Lake were bursting with bright colors on Monday as many tourists visited the scenic spots on the second day of the Dragon Boat Festival holidays. But it was not the colors of the buildings that stood out. It was the almost rainbow colors of the shared bicycles that clogged the narrow walkways that captured the eye.
As more people begin to use shared bikes for their daily commute and more companies enter the market, Beijingers are slowly waking up to the chaotic parking situations they bring. It is no longer uncommon to see subway entrances, hutong, and entrances to residential compounds choked with shared bicycles, and it's worse during public holidays.
According to a Beijing Youth Daily report on Wednesday, shared bikes were piled into small "hills" at the hutong near the Beijing East Railway Station ahead of the Dragon Boat Festival holidays because of a jump in the number of passengers traveling by train.
A passenger surnamed Teng was at the station on Saturday evening and recalled seeing taxi drivers toss bikes parked along the roadside onto the existing piles so that their cars could drive through.
"Many people rode to the station, but only a small number of people arriving in Beijing rode those bikes away," said Teng. "[It] caused the blockage."
The hutong is about four meters wide and about 300 meters long, and it was flooded with parked bikes. Both residents and tourists were inconvenienced. Complaints were made on social media, and the shared bike companies replied that they had sent people to deal with the situation. Afterward, shared bikes were still tossed to the side, but much less than in the photos uploaded by Net users, the report said.
One of the companies told the Beijing Youth Daily that the large passenger flow to the station was the major cause of the problem and that they assign people to the location every day to supervise and manage the bikes.
Another company called on its users to report uncivilized behavior. The company pledged that users would get extra credit on their account once the reports are verified and that those who do not abide by the rules will lose their credit.
Shenzhen in Guangdong Province has partnered with bike-sharing companies to monitor the bikes in certain areas with the help of a self-activated warning system. The system warns users not to enter a specific area when there are too many bikes present. "Digital fences" are underway in Beijing. Dongcheng district plans to test-run the fences. If a user doesn't park their bike in a designated area, the system will stop the transaction from completing and drain the user's funds over time.
Careless parking in public spaces is not the only problem that came with the popularity of shared bikes. Other issues include safety concerns, vandalism, theft, and consumer issues between users and the companies when accidents and lawsuits happen.