The rapid explosion of bike-sharing schemes on the streets of the city has been both a blessing and a curse for Beijingers. On the one hand, being able to pick up a bike at the subway station to whizz onwards to your next destination is highly convenient. On the other, it can be difficult to even reach the subway station entrance due to the impenetrable walls of Ofos and Mobikes constructed around it.
Now the city authorities have moved to take action. Draft regulations were published for consultation on April 21, and we are pleased to report that on the whole they seem sensible and reasonable.
All bikes will be required to have GPS, and the apps will have to mark out areas where parking is forbidden. The intention seems to be to put the onus on users to park responsibly, or to risk having the service suspended.
Another common area of concern has been the difficulty in getting deposits back. Under new regulations deposits will be held in a special account administered by the People’s Bank of China, which will ensure that customers get their money returned to them when appropriate.
Other rules set standards for the maintenance of bikes and tighten the requirements for the companies to have third party insurance. Children under 12 will be forbidden from riding shared bikes. One area which might cause disappointment is that the regulations rule out shared e-bike schemes, for the time being at least.
The two biggest players in the market, Ofo and Mobike, have responded positively to the proposed regulations, and it seems likely that the public’s attitude will also be favorable. We look forward to seeing the new rules passed and enforced, so that we can enjoy the benefits of bike sharing without the chaos that sometimes ensues.