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The services should be embraced in the city's development strategy

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

There have been many discussions about whether bike-sharing companies should contribute toward the cost of managing public spaces. However, before we can talk about this, we have to determine whether the business model should be the pursuit of corporate profit or the provision of a public service.

I am in favor of the latter. Shared bikes are strongly characteristic of a public service, equal to buses and subways in many ways, far more than taxis.

Although the bikes are provided by businesses rather than local governments, they provide a service for the public and have been well received across all age groups.

Based on those factors, I think it is reasonable that the operators place shared bikes in designated spaces on the streets.

So far, the city government hasn't required operators to pay to put their bikes on the streets, which suggests that it acknowledges that there is an element of public service.

As far as I'm concerned, the root cause of the recent problem, such as congestion on sidewalks and around subways station entrances, office buildings and major public venues is a lack of planning and the sudden, sharp proliferation of cycles. So the problem is not just an issue for the bike-sharing companies or the millions of cyclists.

Some cities overseas, such as Copenhagen, included bike-parking spaces when the infrastructure was being planned and designed the roads and streets to ensure they would be bicycle-friendly.

The authorities in Shanghai should embrace bike-sharing as part of the city's long-term development strategy and as an extension of public transportation, such as buses and subways.

In that way, the bikes won't be a problem. Instead, they will force a revolution that will upgrade the city's public management.

Zhu Dajian spoke with Zhou Wenting.

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