Beijing puts brakes on E-bike sharing, restricts total number of for-hire bikes

By Zhang Hui Source:Global Times Published: 2017/9/15 23:13:39 Last Updated: 2017/9/16 2:49:49

Beijing does not encourage electric- bike-sharing due to safety concerns, according to guidelines on bike sharing released by the municipal government Friday.

The decision was made after considering the safety of riding and charging facilities, parking order and characteristics of public services, read the guidelines published on the website of Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport (BMCT).

The guidelines, jointly issued by Beijing's 11 government departments, aim at regulating Beijing's booming bike-sharing industry. The guidelines also acknowledged that shared bikes serve to suit the public's need for short-distance travel and is one of the city's transport components.

Beijing had a total of 2.35 million for-hire bikes from 15 firms on the streets as of September 7, but they have caused adverse affects on traffic order and the environment due to the sheer number of bikes, as well as illegal parking. The capital banned the introduction of more for-hire bikes to its streets on September 7, according to BMCT.

The guidelines require users of for-hire bikes to register with their real identities, require bike-sharing firms to own or rent parking lots for maintenance of bikes, install GPS, share its service platforms with government departments for supervision and immediately deal with emergencies, including illegal parking and affecting traffic.

Meanwhile, bike-sharing companies have to provide accident insurance for users, open special accounts for deposits, and when they cease operations, they have to announce to the public, refund all deposits and retrieve all bikes, according to the guidelines.

"Two major problems with for-hire bikes are haphazard parking that affects traffic order and the huge deposits, which in many cases may not be returned to users," Zhao Zhanling, a legal counsel with the Internet Society of China, told the Global Times on Friday.

He said that even though the guidelines stipulate there must be a bank account for the deposits, there is no guarantee they won't be embezzled.

Each district government in Beijing is responsible for the number of bikes on the street and for parking spaces, read the guidelines.

The guidelines also ban bike-sharing companies offering services to children under 12 years old, and ask their guardian to cooperate.

"Safety warnings and cooperation from parents is not enough to prevent children under 12 from using them. Companies have to improve their identity verification systems, such as using facial recognition technology, to prevent fake IDs in registration," Zhan said.

Bike-sharing startup ofo was involved in a case in which a 11-year-old boy died after colliding with a truck while riding an ofo bike in Shanghai on March 26. The case opened Friday in a local court, and no verdict was handed down.

The guidelines are based on studies of bike-sharing companies including Mobike and ofo, and the administrative practices in cities such as Shanghai, Shenzhen and Chengdu, BMCT said.
Newspaper headline: Beijing stalls E-bike sharing


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