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Bringing cycling back to China to fight pollution and prevent gridlock

By Zhou Wenting | China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-01 07:14

I think it's reasonable to expect bike-sharing companies to reimburse the local government because their services raise the cost of traffic management.

The services are extremely convenient: Riders don't need to return the bikes to a specific kiosk owned by the operator. Instead, they just need to find an unobtrusive place to leave them on the street.

However, the reality is that more often than not the bikes are scattered randomly and block the sidewalks, which causes problems for pedestrians and makes the streets look untidy.

In response, cities should designate a department to oversee the development of these services. At present, different departments have varying degrees of responsibility.

The transportation authorities are happy with the growth of bike-sharing services. Before, a number of cities, such as Shanghai, Hefei in Anhui province, and Kunming in Yunnan province, spent ever-increasing amounts of money providing their own public bike services to reduce car use to protect the environment and alleviate traffic congestion. None of the systems was very successful, and user rates were far lower than for these new bike-sharing services.

Urban management departments may complain that the services increase their workloads, but it seems unlikely that the shared bike model will return to the old system of designated bike racks or kiosks. People don't like to have to return bikes to specified locations that may be hundreds of meters from their destinations.

We must understand that the new bike-sharing systems have more positives than negatives, such as unprecedented convenience and little risk of the bikes being stolen. Before the advent of shared bikes, many people had their own bikes stolen, which forced them to abandon cycling. Bike-sharing has brought cycling back to China's cities.

Zhou Haiwang spoke with Zhou Wenting.

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