Many residents have benefited from the new public bicycles which have no strict limitations on where and when they can be parked since they first appeared in Xiamen last year. However, some common problems have gradually come to light. For example, seriously damaged bicycles and disorderly parking are problems which not only influence the regular users but also effect the city’s image. So, how to regulate the proper use of these bicycles?
A reporter contacted the two biggest operators of public bicycles in Xiamen, Mobike and OFO.The companies’s officials said they has already strengthened the maintenance and routing inspection of bicycles and had set up a number of recommended parking spots around the city with more to follow in the future. Meanwhile, officials appeal to residents to behave themselves while riding and take a good care of the bikes.
Problem 1: The “disabled” bicycles and terrible city image
A random inspection conducted on February 16th noted that twelve OFO bikes with different levels of damage lay on the sand near XICEC, including three with damaged tires, five with plate abrasion and four with components missing.
“These bikes have been left here quite a long time without maintenance.” said a sanitation man.
Along the south of Huandao East Road, some damaged bikes showed up: some were parked together and some just left casually. There were approximately thirty abandoned OFO bikes according to a rough estimate.
More malfunctioning bikes were found at different places. A bike without front tyre were placed against the street lamp on Qianpu East Road near the Hualinziwei Community. Moreover, the faucet and seat of a bike was taken down.
Solution: Strengthen the routine inspections and remove the damaged bicycles in time.
Of the public bicycles, the OFO bikes are the most frequently found to have been maliciously damaged. OFO was officially imported to Xiamen the last December and currently has over 60,000 bikes of which around 5% are damaged, the development director of OFO bike, Ma Xiao said.
The damaged public bikes turn into “useless steel” when they can not be ridden and also have a negative impact on the city’s appearance. To solve this problem, eighty maintenance workers and more than ten dispatching cars for OFO bike are now in operation in Xiamen, said Ma Xiao. During the regular inspections slight damage can be fixed on the spot while bikes in poor condition are sent back to the factory. In addition, maintenance men can be called out if bikes are not moved for a long time through backstage detection.“Maintenance men are still being recruited and each one is in charge of 500 bikes,” he added.
Chen Xinyu, who works in the PR Department of Mobike, said only 200 destructive incidents had happened in Xiamen so far, “it is not a large number and still under control.” Undoubtedly some of these have been deliberate such as the damage to QR code and bikes left in the sea. Nowadays, more than 30,000 Mobikes are in use in Xiamen with sixteen official operators, four maintenance engineers and twenty dispatch cars. Maintenance men can find the exact place where bikes need to be fixed via GPS since each bike can be located precisely. In the future, more maintainers will be employed as the number of bikes grows.
Problem 2: Parking Disorder
Some bikes are parked on sidewalks, even inside offices.
Many residents choose public bike because of the convenience of the parking, which is a moral test for users since the parking influences others.
Most of the bikes were parked casually according to yesterday’s findings. Several bikes were left on the sidewalk or in front of stores along Hubin South Road. In the South Lake Haoyuan Community, a public bike was parked at the entrance of the building. A locked share bike was parked on the path of an office building located on Lvling Road.
Solution: Restrict users by credits, set up recommended parking spots
Both operators pay a lot attention to the problem of disorderly parking. Mobikes imposes a credit penalty for those breaking the parking rules and, what’s more, once a user’s credits are under 80, the charge of half an hour changes to 100 RMB, according to Chen Xinyu .
Ma Xiao also said, OFO often appealed to users to respect the parking rules on their WeChat public subscription.
Around 100 part-time workers are inspecting the main roads in Xiamen, said Chen. Maintenance staff will also guide the users to park according to the rules, Ma added.
Nowadays, both operators are run under the form of a business-company cooperation and set regulated parking spots. OFO Recommended Parking Spots have already been set up in C&D Enjoy Centre, Art West Community and JFC Centre. Mobike Recommended Parking Spots can also be found in many commercial districts.
Problem 3: Privatisation
Some users took of the listens and use in private and left them randomly after it broke
The privatisation of OFO bikes are a much more serious problem. Recently, a OFO bike was painted black by a misbehaving user, according to a netizen. During the investigation, QR codes of 3 OFO bikes were badly damaged and the bikes discovered locked in front of the Binlang Estate.
“These bikes’s license were damaged on purpose. Some people used them in private and left them after they broke,” said Mr. Zeng, a drink seller working beside the bicycle sidewalk near Huangcuo.
Solution: Update the smart lock, cooperate more closely with the police.
OFO use a random lock which can breakdown under extreme weather conditions, said Ma. Lately, OFO has already invented a new smart lock with changeable codes. A group of new bikes equipped with this new smart locks will be used in Xiamen in the future.
The operator has also begun to cooperate more closely with the police to prevent the privatisation and stealing of OFO bikes. For instance, it was reported that two OFO bikes were likely to be stolen in a van at Jiangtou market. It was considered a civil liability by the police investigation and the van owner paid a 600 RMB fine. Another user riding a bike without a license was found by the operator and sent to the police station. Afterwards, this user still managed to keep his user status after he wrote a self-criticism and restored the bike’s license.