With Shanghai’s streets and sidewalks being subsumed by waves upon waves of shared bikes, the city government has finally had enough and is telling the bike-sharing companies, no mo’ bikes!
Over the past year, bike-sharing services like Mobike and Ofo have been blowing up popularity in China. While the bikes may be an environmentally-friendly alternative to vehicles, they have created some serious headaches for officials charged with making sure that traffic runs relatively smoothly in China’s crowded urban centers.
Earlier this month, images went viral online showing some 4,000 seized shared bikes brightening up a parking lot in Shanghai. The bicycles had been left parked illegally in the sidewalk or street by their careless users. Most of the seized bikes belong to Mobike, the leading bike sharing service in China, which refused to pay any fees to have the bikes returned.
Shanghai authorities now appear ready to take their revenge, requesting that eight leading bike-sharing services in the city place a halt on introducing any new bikes in Shanghai while they work on getting this whole thing sorted out. Previously, the Shanghai Bike Authority had estimated that there could be as many 500,000 shared bikes in Shanghai by the end of the first half of this year.
The Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision is currently finalizing a series of new regulations which will put constraints on the bike-sharing industry. According to the Global Times, the new regulations, which will go into effect after receiving input from the public, may include the following requirements:
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.
Once the rules go into place, they will become China’s first effort at regulating the country’s booming bike-sharing business. This year, Shanghai authorities have been busy trying to clean up the streets. At the beginning of this month, a long-awaited ban against unlicensed electric scooters took effect. Of course, for these kind of things, enforcement is always an issue.
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