Promis­ing start to man­ag­ing bike shar­ing

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - THE AUTHOR­I­TIES IN SHEN­ZHEN,

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.

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