Updated with video: Riders are leaving their oBikes everywhere and some government officials won't take it anymore
The China Post Thursday, July 13, 2017, 3:46 pm TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan's first rules for "dockless" share bicycles are starting to take shape as residents' complaints pile up about bikes being left in weird places.
OBikes, which can be left by users anywhere and found by new users by luck or by app, debuted in Taiwan in April and are now available in at least 10 cities and counties.
By contrast, most other bicycle-sharing services, such as YouBike, have dedicated stations for users to rent and return their bikes.
Kaohsiung received 5,000 oBikes in mid-June, with many left at parking garages and public parking spaces for people to find.
Since then, many of the bikes have migrated to the inner city, where they compete with scooters for the few parking spaces and inflame the resentment of scooter owners.
Not a few bikes have been left at the end of the rider's journey on sidewalks, next to trees, by flowerbeds and outside storefronts, according to Kaohsiung police.
The cops said that while parking bikes in scooter spaces was permitted, they wanted riders to quit leaving the bikes in areas not designated for parking.
Police said they were working with local transport officials on a law that would allow them to impound the bikes and write fines if the bike-share firm does not take away their improperly parked units.
In Hualien, local authorities are in the process of doing the same.
Police in the eastern county, where 3,000 bikes rolled out in May, said Wednesday they were working with the local government to enable the impoundment of oBikes — and to allow their auction if the company does not come to collect within six months.
Huang Tseng-chang (黃增樟), head of the local police bureau, said oBikes should be left in parking spaces for scooters or bikes, with violators subject to a fine of NT$300 to NT$600.
Since June, Hualien police have written 20 tickets for improper oBike parking, Huang said.
Far more draconian measures are in place in New Taipei, where 17 scooter parking zones have been declared off limits to oBikes and over 1,000 towed since the beginning of enforcement in June 7, officials said.
In the neighboring Taipei, Mayor Ko Wen-je said the sharing economy was the future and that scooter parking would remain open to oBikes.
But the city government would draft rules and regulations for bike-sharing programs, which would come into effect next year at the earliest, he said.
Ko was responding to reporters' questions about the capital's approach to oBikes during a press conference.
The sharing economy is an inexorable global trend that "should be regulated and not banned," he said.
The city government will announce areas that are off limits to bicycle parking, and bicycles that are illegally parked will be towed. No fines will be levied if an oBike is parked in a scooter grid, but if there are too many in a single grid, the company will be asked to remove some, he said.
Wang Chih-kang (王志剛), warden of Taipei's Chang Long borough, complained to the Central News Agency about the pileup of oBikes in his neighborhood's scooter parking spaces.
In response to Ko's announcement, Wang said he would pack up the oBikes in his neighborhood and give them to Taipei's transport department to deal with.
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