City tackles shared bikes problems

Draft regulation seeks to punish firms which abandon bikes and leave customers out of pocket.

Unlocked a shared bike only to find it broken? Or had to step around a pile of dirty machines blocking the sidewalk?

Such problems may soon be a thing of the past as the city’s transport authority drafts a new regulation on the management of shared bikes.

The main issue, according to the draft, is the number of bikes on the streets and a re-evaluation of the situation is suggested.

The authority will evaluate shared bike companies based on their maintenance programs, services and user credibility.

Companies able to provide a good service and a better allocation of their bikes will be allowed to put more on the streets while companies that do less well will be restrained.

Companies have been urged to scan the serial numbers of all bikes and upload them to an online platform supervised by the traffic authority and the police.

The draft says companies will be fined up to 100,000 yuan (US$15,580) if they put bikes without numbers on the street.

Both ofo and Mobike have told Shanghai Daily they sometimes give up on bikes as the cost to retrieve them is too high. But that leads to the “graveyards” of bikes piling up along the street, tarnishing the city’s image.

The draft says bike companies must assume responsibility for their bikes or face fines.

The life of shared bikes shall not exceed three years and all should have location devices to make management easier for both companies and authorities.

The draft also states that advertisements will not be allowed on bikes. Some companies, including ofo, have ads on their bikes but these will not be allowed once the regulation takes effect.

Due to a downturn in the market, several companies have given up the business, abandoning their bikes on the street and leaving customers with the problem of getting their deposits back.

In a recent case, Xiaoming Bike, which went into liquidation last month, left some 50,000 bikes on the street. It is not yet known if its customers have been able to get their deposits back.

To prevent similar situations, the traffic authority is encouraging companies to stop charging deposits by allowing them to put more bikes on the street.

Meanwhile, the draft states that all companies must offer free accident insurance and help customers as soon as possible in the event of accidents.

Companies giving up the business must give the public at least 30 days’ notice, return all deposits and retrieve all its bikes, according to the draft.

The traffic authority is seeking public opinion on the draft regulation before June 30, to be e-mailed to shjtw@shanghai.gov.cn.


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