Family demands 8 million yuan after boy killed while riding ofo bike

A Shanghai family has demanded more than 8 million yuan from bike-sharing company ofo and a bus operator after a boy was killed while riding one of the shared bikes.
Ti Gong

A Shanghai family has demanded compensation of more than 8 million yuan (US$1.23 million) from bike-sharing company ofo and a bus operator after a boy was killed in a road accident while riding one of the shared bikes.

The accident occurred on March 26 on Tiantong Road, Jing’an District, when the 11-year-old boy, surnamed Gao, was riding an ofo bike in the wrong direction and collided head-on with a coach. He died after emergency treatment.

The accident soon became snarled in controversy over the safety of ofo bikes after police investigation revealed the boy easily obtained the bike, despite being under the minimum rental age.

Every ofo bike is installed with a four-digit combination lock, the code to which is sent to registered users by request. However, in many cases, riders forget to scramble the code after use, making bikes easily accessible to others. This was how Gao obtained the bike.

His parents argued ofo should pay the price for what they called a design fault that caused their son’s death. They demanded about 7.6 million yuan (US$1.2 million) in compensation, including 7 million for mental damages.

“Ofo’s locks impose safety risks,” the family's lawyer Zhang Qianlin argued. “Many bikes are left unlocked after use, and even if they are locked, the code can be easily cracked.”

Zhang added that ofo also failed to properly warn young children not to ride their bikes. What's worse, there have been dozens of reports of children hurt while riding shared bikes on the roads, but ofo ignored the problem and failed to amend it, he said.

Ofo refuted the accusation, claiming it was Gao and his parents who should to take responsibility.

China’s traffic regulations bar children under 12 from riding on roads, and ofo’s service registration system requires users' identity informationm blocking users aged under 12, it said.

Gao didn’t register or pay to use the service, and he was suspected of illegally obtaining others' property. On top of that he violated traffic rules which was the reason for his death, ofo said in court. “It’s not the fault of our lock."

Ofo also blamed Gao’s parents for not well educating and taking care of their boy.

Jing'an People's Court had not yet announced a verdict by Friday evening.

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