SHANGHAI • China yesterday issued guidelines for bike-sharing operations to nurture a new industry credited with spurring a transport revolution, while addressing mounting complaints over an accumulation of millions of bikes on city streets.
Jointly issued by the Ministry of Transport and nine other ministries and agencies, the guidelines urge cities to come up with plans for integrating use of the rental bikes into overall traffic planning, in the latest official vote of confidence for the sector. But they also call for tighter controls on bike parking, systems to penalise offenders, maintenance standards and a ban on use by children under 12.
The bikes, which can be unlocked by GPS using a mobile phone app and left anywhere, have been seized upon by commuters as a cheap and convenient way to navigate congested cities.
But the stampede into the market by providers has left sidewalks in Shanghai, Beijing and many other urban centres cluttered with bikes that are often broken down or left haphazardly parked by users outside of designated zones.
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About 10 million such bikes are said to be on the streets, operated by more than two dozen firms.
Safety issues also have arisen, including the reported death of a Shanghai primary school pupil who was struck by a bus in March.
Xinhua news agency last month quoted a Shanghai consumer affairs official as saying there were over 2,600 complaints about shared bikes in the city in the first four months, nine times more than in the same period last year.