Cycling

DOCKLESS BIKE FLEET SLASHED BY GOVT CULL

A white dockless bike standing on a street next to an old Hong Kong wall, with a sign planted next to it warning of penalties for littering

An abandoned Hoba Bike left on High Street, Sai Ying Pun

A row of brightly coloured dockless bikes in Hong Kong, some green, some black and red

A line of Ketch’up and GoBee bikes in legal bike parking in the New Territories in early 2018, before “self regulation” kicked in

The number of dockless bikes in Hong Kong has drastically shrunk in the last 18 months, new figures show, with just a fifth of the city’s original 26,000 fleet surviving a government cull that aimed to regulate dockless bike operations.

In the last few years, the government has conducted over 780 clearance operations, following up complaints, it says, of illegal bike parking and the “public nuisance” of dockless bikes, and seizing over 6,600 dockless bikes and around 22,400 regular bikes.

The government clampdown is based around its “Code of Practice”, a regulatory document introduced in September 2018 and under which only four of seven dockless bike operators in Hong Kong agreed to continue operations.

The Code of Practice restricted dockless bikes to the New Territories, forbade their use in “urban areas” and required operators to share Global Positioning System data of its bicycles with the Transport Department (TD).

Only three operators – Hobabike, LocoBike and Ofo – remain in the market today, managing a fleet of around 5,200 bikes.

The government says that since adopting the Code of Practice, operators have agreed to concessionary schemes for cyclists who properly park their bicycles using “Geo-Fencing Technology” – and the number of complaints made to the government 1823 Call Centre regarding dockless bikes has dropped 90%, from 91 cases in October 2018 to just two in March 2020.

The figures are released ahead of a Transport Panel discussion in LegCo tomorrow (15 March). The government says it endeavours to foster a “bicycle-friendly environment” and promote cycling for recreation and “short-distance commuting where road safety and conditions permit”. But bike parking spaces are still in short supply: TD says there are just 86 bike parking spaces on the whole of Hong Kong Island.

Map of Hong Kong districts showing the number of bike parking spaces per 100,000 people, copyright Transit Jam 2020

Only the New Territories has any significant bike parking: in Hong Kong Island and Kowloon there are a mere handful of spaces per 100,000 people.

Categories: Cycling, Policy, Smart City, Transit

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