Bei­jing races to con­trol rental bike sec­tor chaos

New Straits Times - - Business -

BEI­JING: A boom­ing rental bike busi­ness has flooded China’s streets with packs of cy­clists, but their habit of go­ing the wrong way and aban­don­ing their rides any­where is caus­ing havoc.

The author­i­ties, scram­bling to catch up, are con­sid­er­ing new reg­u­la­tions to curb the chaos — from cap­ping the num­ber of bikes to even bar­ring peo­ple they con­sider too big or too small for bi­cy­cles.

Un­like the dock­ing sta­tion sys­tems in cities like Lon­don, Paris or New York, the bikes in China can es­sen­tially be found and left any­where.

From Bei­jing to Ti­bet, rid­ers can grab a yel­low, blue, green or or­ange bike by open­ing a smart­phone app and point­ing their cam­era at a QR code that re­leases a lock for as low as one yuan (62 sen).

Once the ride’s over, they sim­ply park the bike and ap­ply the lock.

But many sim­ply leave the bikes in the mid­dle of side­walks or aban­don them hap­haz­ardly on free­ways. The rules that do ex­ist are of­ten ig­nored.

This has cul­mi­nated in fa­tal ac­ci­dents in re­cent months, in­clud­ing the death of a child, spurring of­fi­cials into ac­tion.

In re­cent weeks, po­lice around the coun­try have im­pounded thou­sands of bikes that were dis­carded in piles. But com­pa­nies plan to put thou­sands more on the streets.

Some 30 dif­fer­ent providers wrestling for mar­ket share have placed more than three mil­lion bikes on streets around the coun­try, ac­cord­ing to state me­dia.

There were 18.9 mil­lion users of shared bi­cy­cles na­tion­wide last

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