Promising start to managing bike sharing
South China’s Guangdong province, released draft rules on bikesharing services on Tuesday and solicited public opinions. This marks the first official attempt to manage the emerging industry. Beijing News commented on Wednesday:
The internet-driven bicycle-sharing industry has surely injected fresh momentum into the promotion of greener urban travel. Unlike traditional government-sponsored public bikes, sharing bikes can be parked anywhere that is not prohibited by the authorities, instead of at certain bike stands.
Such an innovative design not only allows users to cover short- and long-distance journeys without worrying where to return a bike, but also brings new hope to efforts to curb traffic jams in congested metropolises such Beijing and Shanghai.
However, internet-based innovations like this are not without their teething troubles. Apart from day-today damage and loss reports, improper parking poses a challenge to urban management.
How to remove illegally parked sharing bikes has haunted many local governments. The urban management authorities in Chengdu, Southwest China’s Sichuan province, impounded about 200 sharing bikes for “illegally occupying public space” last month.
On the one hand, internet trailblazers like Mobike are welcomed to tap undiscovered potentials in the market. On the other hand, boundaries have to be drawn to protect entrepreneurship and avoid foreseeable turbulence caused by innovations.
Shenzhen’s draft regulation covering the city’s bikeson-demand services is laudable in this regard. It urges local transport departments to improve the city’s bicycle lane designs, as well as offer needed guidance and facilities to make sure sharing bikes are parked in approved places. That should be a relief for both bikesharing apps that are already struggling to manage their bikes and customers who are clearly informed of their responsibility.
Shenzhen’s practice is a promising start. But clearing the legal dilemma is not enough. More has to be done to regulate the business in which the interests of all involved parties, ranging from service providers and insurance companies to users, are interwoven.