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Faulty Brakes Injure Woman in China’s First Bike-Sharing Claim; More Set to Come as Sector Explodes


(YicaiGlobal) Feb. 27 — The first compensation claim for an accident resulting from use of a bike-sharing service recently arose in Xiamen in South China’s Fujian province over the use of a bike rented from bike-sharing platform Ofo. Bike-sharing has lately gained great popularity in major Chinese cities amid growing safety concerns.

A woman surnamed Ye suffered nasal bone fractures and contusions to her right eye after the brakes on her rented bicycle failed when she was riding downhill, local media reported, causing her to need more than ten stitches. Ye tried to call Ofo Bicycle after the accident, but got only a busy signal. The platform finally responded after media intervened.

Ofo’s staff acknowledged flaws in their service, and promised to compensate Ms. Ye for all her medical expenses. The exact amount of this settlement was not disclosed, however.

Payment is made for an Ofo bike via the WeChat messaging app of Tencent Holdings Ltd. [HKG:0700]. Users scan a QR code with their smartphones to unlock bikes. The explosive rise of cheap rent-a-bike schemes in China has led to issues such as staffing shortages and faulty bike maintenance among operators. Ofo said it has 80,000 bicycles in service in Xiamen but only 150 inspectors, whose job is to identify defects in bikes at key locations. Each inspector must check an average of 533 bikes per day.

Aside from broken bikes, bike-sharing firms also confront other issues such as customer traffic violations, bike theft and damage. Primary school students weaving uncontrollably while riding rented bikes are also a common sight. Shanghai is introducing measures to restrict minors’ access to ride-sharing bicycles. Furthermore, as more people use bike-sharing services, more velos now park in no-parking spots.

These problems have not deterred Didi Chuxing, the Chinese version of Uber, from investing millions of dollars in Ofo, which started two years ago at Beijing’s Peking University as a student project, and is now China’s biggest bike-sharing platform. The company now runs nearly 70,000 canary-yellow bikes and claims 500,000 rides each day in 20 cities, as Bloomberg News reported Sept. 26.

Intensifying smartphone use has enabled the way for bike-sharing startups such as Ofo and its competitor Mobike Technology Co.

Mobike recently received strategic investment from Singapore’s Temasek and Hillhouse Capital, bringing total investment in the Chinese smart bike-sharing startup to USD300 million thus far this year. Kicked off in Shanghai last April, Mobike has expanded to 21 cities across the country, including Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. “In just 10 months, Mobike has grown to serving more than 10 million users across 21 cities — and in that time, people across China have taken more than 200 million Mobike rides,” said Davis Wang, co-founder and chief executive, a former Uber China executive. “This equates to a reduction in carbon emissions of hundreds of thousands of tons,” Yicai Global reported Feb. 20. Although bike-sharing schemes have a definite downside, their benefits appear to outweigh their disadvantages and, however much they may arouse regulators’ ire, it also seems they are here to stay.

Follow Yicai Global on Facebook @yicaiglobal and Twitter @yicaichina.

 

These problems have not deterred Didi Chuxing, the Chinese version of Uber, from investing millions of dollars in Ofo, which started two years ago at Beijing’s Peking University as a student project, and is now China’s biggest bike-sharing platform. The company now runs nearly 70,000 canary-yellow bikes and claims 500,000 rides each day in 20 cities, as Bloomberg News reported Sept. 26.

Intensifying smartphone use has enabled the way for bike-sharing startups such as Ofo and its competitor Mobike Technology Co.

 

These problems have not deterred Didi Chuxing, the Chinese version of Uber, from investing millions of dollars in Ofo, which started two years ago at Beijing’s Peking University as a student project, and is now China’s biggest bike-sharing platform. The company now runs nearly 70,000 canary-yellow bikes and claims 500,000 rides each day in 20 cities, as Bloomberg News reported Sept. 26.

Intensifying smartphone use has enabled the way for bike-sharing startups such as Ofo and its competitor Mobike Technology Co.

 

 

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