Bikes-on-de­mand have to be kept out of young kids’ hands

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - THE PAR­ENTS OF AN 11-YEAR-OLD BOY,

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.

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