Recently, safety concerns over shared bikes have come under the spotlight due to a case of death compensation underway in Shanghai Jing’an District People’s Court.
The tragic accident happened in March, when Yuan, an 11-year-old boy, was hanging out with his friends. They managed to unlock four Ofo bikes and began riding on the roads.
When they came to the crossroads of Tiantong Lu and Zhejiang Nan Lu, Yuan was hit by a bus and later pronounced dead at a hospital.
In July, the Yuan’s parents sued Ofo and demanded compensation of over RMB8.66 million. They also asked for a change in the procedure for unlocking shared bikes.
Actually, this is far from the first time shared bikes have been involved in traffic accidents. According to statistics, there have been 23 accidents involving shared bikes this year and 82.61 percent of which were due to the lock issues.
Aside from the flaws in the locks, some argue reason that the parents were to blame for failing to prevent the kids from using the bikes. As stated in Regulation on the Implementation of the Road Traffic Safety Law of the People's Republic of China, adolescents under age 12 are prohibited from riding bicycles on the road.
However, it’s still common to see kids under legal age riding bikes on the road. To find out how serious the problem is, we went to a private elementary school and interviewed some of the students.
When we asked if they had ever unlocked shared bikes and go for a ride on their own, most of them said yes.
“Many of my classmates have used shared bikes, including myself,” replied one student. “Some of them even ride them every day to go to school.”
Then we inquired about how they unlock the bikes since the service is supposedly blocked for users under age 12. Lots of them answered that the bikes could be easily unlocked by trying different combination of numbers.
To those who don’t want to waste time on guessing the correct combination, parents’ phones become their best solution. Lu, another student, added, “I used to use my mom’s cell phone to unlock the bike. However, now she no longer lends me the phone. She thinks it’s unsafe.”