On my rockin’ bicycle

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/3/15 18:38:39

Shanghai to restrict bicycle-sharing services

All shared bikes should be equipped with GPS function and all bikes must be retired after three years of service, according to new regulations on bike-sharing drafted by Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision (SMBQTS), the paper.cn reported.

The new regulations will soon receive the input of public opinion before finally taking effect.

With Mobike and Ofo offering free rides recently to attract new users, competition between major bike-sharing service providers is fiercer than ever. But this peak in popularity has also resulted in peak problems.

According to youth.cn, some 4,000 shared bikes were impounded by a Huangpu district parking management company in February, resulting in a collection of bikes "as large as a basketball court." According to the report, the bikes were parked by irresponsible users outside designated parking areas.

Moreover, chinanews.com reported other common problems of shared bikes, such as that imperfect GPS functions and an app that doesn't recognize malfunctioning bikes, which can't be used but still charges users.

Mobike told chinanews.com that since the launch of their operation in early 2016, it has updated its bike locks eight times and made the GPS more accurate. Meanwhile, Ofo, which doesn't have any GPS function, only changed its traditional locks with digital ones.

Risk assessment

To solve such problems, in 2016, when bike-sharing started gaining popularity, SMBQTS has started a series of investigations and conducted risk assessment on shared bikes' physical and service quality.

In terms of their physical quality, shared bikes enjoy a shorter lifespan than traditional bikes because they're used more frequently and parked outside. Regarding their service quality, many providers fail to devote much maintenance or upkeep to their own bikes.

Based on this investigation and assessment, SMBQTS, together with other related industry associations, recently finished drafting three series of regulations: on the service and on the technical conditions of shared and electric bikes.

According to the drafts, all shared bikes should be equipped with GPS, for search convenience by users, to retrace lost or stolen ones as well as to facilitate solving the problem of illegal parking.

"The GPS function will help service providers manage and maintain their bikes. If a bike rental company doesn't know where its bikes are, how can it maintain them properly?" Guo Jianrong, secretary of Shanghai Bicycle Association, told thepaper.cn.

The drafts also demand that only people aged between 12 and 70 can use shared bikes, that bike-sharing businesses should not adopt privately owned bikes and that refunding deposits should be completed within seven days after a user submits his/her request.

(From top) Children under 12 won't be allowed to use shared bikes, according to new regulations drafted by Shanghai authorities. Mobike users ride along Garden Bridge in Shanghai, posing potential hazards for pedestrians. Photos: CFP

Regulations on bike-sharing (drafts, abridged)

  • Service life: Generally three years of consistent use. Retired bikes can't be adjusted or fixed for reuse in the market. Privately owned bikes can't enter the market.
  • Requirements on app services: An app should have remote control functions, statistics display functions, GPS functions.
  • Requirements on users: The height of the user should be within the limit of 1.45 meters to 1.95 meters; and the age range from 12 to 70. People older than 70 years can apply for use by submitting a health certificate annually to service providers.
  • General quality of bicycles: At least 95 percent of bikes per provider should be in sound condition, and at least 98 percent of an electric bike battery should be in sound condition.
  • Compensation time limit: Acknowledging the judicial fact that a user is harmed while using a shared-bike, the service provider should pay compensation within seven days.


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