'Digital plates' for shared bikes on the roads

Bike sharing firms have been told to scan and upload the serial numbers of the bikes to an online database to keep a track on the number of bikes in the city.

THE Shanghai Transportation Commission and traffic police have told bike sharing firms to scan and upload the serial numbers of the bikes to an online database to keep a track on the number of bikes in the city.

In August last year, Shanghai had banned the app firms from putting out new bikes on the roads. The move helped as the number of shared bikes on the city roads dropped from 1.8 million to 1.1 million.

But some of the bike sharing firms reportedly were simply putting more bikes on the road in the guise of “replacing the old ones.”

Since the firms had their own ways to tag the serial number, it became difficult for the authorities to manage the bikes.

With the new “digital plates,” all the bikes replaced or scrapped will be in the system and the companies have been told to notify the authorities before replacing old bikes.

Professor Ren Yuan, an expert on urban planning from Fudan University, said the digital plates were a more efficient way of managing shared bikes.

“Both the government and the companies will be able to see the distribution of the bikes across the city,” said Ren.

“It will be easier for both of them to coordinate with each other.”

In November last year, authorities had stipulated that all shared bikes had to be registered with the police. They said the digital plates were a development of that system.

The commission said more than 35.5 million people were registered on bike sharing apps.

Despite the efforts to clamp down on shared bikes, citizens still find their public space occupied by them.

Yao Dilu, a white-collar worker who often uses shared bikes from Wujiaochang Metro Station to his office, said it was a struggle every day to pull a bike out for use from the hordes of bikes outside the station.

“Sometimes you realize the bikes are broken only after you start using it,” said Yao. “It’s frustrating.”

Major bike sharing firms ofo and Mobike told Shanghai Daily that they had finished scanning and uploading their bikes on the online platform.

“We have already shared our data with the government,” said Ma Yibing from ofo.

“Scanning the bikes on the street is to make sure the information offline matches the one we shared online.”

Special Reports
Top