In the last six months of 2017 790 bikes were impounded by government departments in the Sai Kung District, of which 25 were shared bicycles. 3414 notices were issued for being illegally parked.
In reply to a question in the Legislative Council by Chan Han-pan, the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Mr Frank Chan Fan noted that from July to December 2017, government departments issued a total of 28,697 statutory notices to clear illegally parked bicycles and cleared 5,876 of these, of which 303 were shared bikes.
Chan Fan also pointed out that the government has repeatedly agreed to meet with the sharing bicycle operators and each of the other parties has agreed to introduce improvement measures one after another, including a clear demonstration of the telephone hotline on the bicycles so that members of the public can immediately complain about the moratorium and update their mobile applications, to show the location of public bicycle parking spaces and the introduction of incentive schemes to encourage bicycle users to park their bicycles in the right place. The government also noted that some operators started to reduce the scale of their deliveries in mid-November 2017 and have recovered about 2,000 to 3,000 shared bicycles.
In view of the serious problem of cycling sharing, Mr Chan said “that in order to more effectively handle the issue of bicycle parking, the government departments jointly conducted the trial operation of the MTR Sheung Shui Station from January last year. In cracking down the illegal bicycle parking plans, no statutory notice on clearing bicycles will be issued. Instead, citation of the Summary Offenses Ordinance will be used to remove obstructed bicycles without notice. Relevant government departments are now examining the effectiveness of the pilot scheme and will consider whether it is suitable for extending the scheme to other regions upon completion of the review.
“In addition, some operators started their self-service bicycle rental business in urban areas at the end of 2017. The Transport Department (TD) immediately contacted relevant operators to show that urban traffic was very heavy with narrow roads and heavy passenger traffic on the roadside. Due to road safety considerations, the Government discouraged citizens from using bicycles in the urban areas as a means of transport. In addition, there are no complete cycle tracks and roadside bicycle parking spaces in the district. TD therefore disagrees with the operators’ promotion of self-service rental bicycles in urban areas. It is understood by the Department that the operators concerned are gradually recovering some self-service rental bicycles that have been put into operation in urban areas”.
Currently, monitoring of bike parking is spread among a number of government departments. This lack of coordination means that in some areas different departments are responsible for different action. For example, the Transport Department (TD) is responsible for clearing bicycles illegally parked at covered public transport interchanges; the District Lands Offices (DLOs) concerned are in charge of clearing bicycles illegally occupying unleased Government land; and the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) is tasked to remove bicycles which may pose immediate danger to road users.
Under the Road Traffic (Parking) Regulations (Cap 374C), no person shall park a vehicle (including a bicycle) in non-designated parking places; nor shall he or she park a vehicle in a parking place for a continuous period of more than 24 hours. In addition, the Land (Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance (Cap 28) prohibits unlawful occupation of unleased Government land, whereas the Summary Offences Ordinance (Cap 228) prohibits people from leaving any article that may obstruct, inconvenience or endanger any person or vehicle.
According to Mr Chan, the Government has all along been concerned about the illegal parking of bicycles and prolonged occupation of public bicycle parking spaces by bicycles (including abandoned ones) and other articles. To address the problem of illegal parking of bicycles more effectively, the District Offices (DOs) concerned would coordinate, where appropriate, joint operations with such departments as the DLOs concerned, the TD, the HKPF and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department so as to clear the black spots of illegally parked bicycles or misplaced articles.
BUZZ readers are becoming more and more frustrated with random green, blue and red shared biked being abandoned in the Country Parks. As none of the three major departments tasked with enforcing action on illegally parked bikes responsible for the Country Park areas, it looks like the District Office is the place to complain. Of course, that gives us a problem in Sai Kung as the southern half of the Country Park comes under Sai Kung District and the northern part under Tai Po District – a situation that needs rectifying for any proper coordination and planning.