Ofo blames deadly bike ac­ci­dent on boy’s par­ents

Com­pany says poor su­per­vi­sion led to col­li­sion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By ZHOU WENTING in Shang­hai zhouwent­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Chi­nese bike-shar­ing gi­ant Ofo said dur­ing a court hear­ing in Shang­hai on Fri­day that the main cul­prit of the ac­ci­dent that took the life of a 10-year-old boy while he was rid­ing one of its shared bikes was poor parental su­per­vi­sion.

The boy’s par­ents have sued Ofo for more than 7.61 mil­lion yuan ($1.16 mil­lion) in com­pen­sa­tion, and re­quested the com­pany im­me­di­ately in­stall smart locks on all its bikes.

The boy, who has not been iden­ti­fied, col­lided with a tourist bus while rac­ing three other boys around his age and rid­ing on the wrong side of the road in the city’s cen­tral Tiantong Road on March 26.

He died at a hos­pi­tal shortly af­ter the crash.

The bus driver and Shang­hai Hong­mao Auto Rental, which owns the ve­hi­cle that the boy col­lided head-on with, were also sued by the par­ents for an ad­di­tional 1 mil­lion yuan.

It is the first lit­i­ga­tion in the coun­try against a bike-shar­ing com­pany over an ac­ci­dent.

The boy’s par­ents be­lieved the pri­mary cause of his death was that Ofo bikes are eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble to chil­dren ow­ing to me­chan­i­cal flaws.

Older mod­els op­er­ated by the com­pany have me­chan­i­cal locks, which re­quire a four­digit com­bi­na­tion. “The com­bi­na­tion for one bike is al­ways the same and when some users for­get to scram­ble the com­bi­na­tion af­ter fin­ish­ing their jour­ney, they can be rid­den for free,” Zhang Qian­lin, the plain­tiff's at­tor­ney, told the court.

“Even if the lock is scram­bled, tech­niques to un­lock the bikes are widely cir­cu­lated on­line and can be eas­ily mas­tered by chil­dren,” said Zhang.

Chi­nese law for­bids mi­nors un­der 12 years old from rid­ing bi­cy­cles on roads. Zhang said that de­spite me­dia re­ports of ju­ve­niles be­ing in­jured from rid­ing shared bikes, Ofo failed to up­date its equip­ment to block un­der­age users.

How­ever, Ofo be­lieved the ac­ci­dent hap­pened be­cause of the par­ents’ lack of su­per­vi­sion and an ab­sence of safety ed­u­ca­tion.

More­over, the com­pany said the boy in­ap­pro­pri­ately un­locked the bike, which in­fringed upon the prop­erty rights of the com­pany and even­tu­ally led to the tragedy.

“Shared bikes are not equiv­a­lent to pub­lic bikes. They can­not be used by peo­ple for free. Users must reg­is­ter on the app and un­lock the bike only af­ter re­ceiv­ing the four-digit pass­word,” said Ouyang Ji­hua, the at­tor­ney for Ofo.

“Ofo can give some money to the cou­ple as com­pen­sa­tion but has de­nied their ac­cu­sa­tions,” he said.

The ver­dict is pend­ing.

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