Over 20 share bikes have been abandoned along a single country park trail on Lantau Island.

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

The green and yellow share bicycles – belonging to GoBee and Ofo – were spotted by HKFP on Monday between Tung Chung and Tai O.

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Founded in 2014 in Beijing, Ofo operates over 10 million bicycles in 20 countries. It raised US$880 million in an Alibaba-led funding round in March, according to Reuters.

Users may use an app to unlock the dockless bicycles and pay for each hour of use. However, both firms have faced criticism in recent years after local media reported on bikes being abandoned in rivers in the New Territories.

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

GoBee Hong Kong, which raised US9 million in funding after it launched last year, did not respond to enquiries.

However, Ofo said its bicycles were not placed in the park by the company: “We deploy our bikes at areas with bike lanes or areas with high bike activities from our users… Our operation teams in work to ensure our bikes are moved to high demand areas to ensure more people in Hong Kong can enjoy ofo rides daily,” a spokesperson told HKFP.

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Ofo said citizens may report abandoned bicycles using their app or Whatsapp: “User education has been one of our top priorities since our launch in Hong Kong and we work closely with media bodies and the local government to advocate safe riding.”

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

They added that staff would be sent to retrieve their bikes from the Lantau trail.

Better education

Gabrielle Ho, senior project manager at Green Sense, told HKFP that their NGO had observed share bikes abandoned on highways, bridges and in rivers: “To be a responsible user, the bike should be parked in accessible and appropriate place after use.”

“We hope the companies may release ‘share bike etiquette’ [information] to educate users on do’s and don’ts especially, ‘leaving-no-trace’ in country parks,” she added.

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

However, district councillor and Designing Hong Kong environmentalist Paul Zimmerman told HKFP that share bikes are in an experimental stage and patience is needed: “It is a positive problem – people are using the bikes, people are going to the country parks. Now we have to learn how to deal with this new mode of travel, including designating bicycle parking areas, and shared use of trails with pedestrians.”

Paul Zimmerman. File photo: In-Media

“[W]e can learn from the data recorded by the shared bicycle companies [about] what the favourite routes and drop off points are. Those are the alignments and locations we can then all focus on for improving provisions.. let’s learn together and experiment.”

Tom is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications & New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Quartz, Global Post and others.