Bikes-on-demand have to be kept out of young kids’ hands
who was killed in a collision with a coach while riding one of Ofo’s short-term hire bikes in Shanghai four months ago, are suing the company and the coach driver. They are asking for 8.78 million yuan ($1.32 million) in compensation and have urged Ofo to replace all its bike locks with safer ones. Southern Metropolis Daily commented on Monday:
The tricky part is how to judge Ofo’s responsibility for the accident. Some say the bike provider shoulders no blame for the accident, because the 11-yearold basically “stole” the bike by cracking the combination code to its lock, and then caused the accident by riding on the wrong side of the road. His parents, therefore, have no grounds for claiming compensation from Ofo, they argue.
Such an argument may be valid. But it is the easily crackable combination locks on many Ofo bikes that allowed the boy to use the bike.
Most of the Ofo locks have one simple combination and thus they can be opened by whoever knows the code without further assistance. It was not until recently that the company started changing them to
safer smart locks, which can only be unlocked by eligible users using a smartphone.
The mechanical lock is thus fundamentally to blame for the boy’s death, and therefore Ofo does shoulder some of the responsibility for the boy’s death. Bike-on-demand services offer a green solution to traffic congestion and the last-mile problem of urban commuters. But they may put lives at risk if kids are able to ride them on the roads.
However, the boy’s parents were also responsible for the tragedy, because according to law, individuals aged under 12 are prohibited from riding bikes on the road. The coach driver, too, should pay the price for not paying full attention to the road while making a left turn.