Law prohibits new shared bike companies from coming to Kunming

Image: Caixin

This article was originally posted on GoKunming.

Patience with an excess of shared bicycles has come to an end within Kunming city management circles. An edict issued on July 20 states that no new public bike companies will be allowed to start up operations in the Spring City and no additional bikes will be added to bolster existing ranks unless they clearly replace outdated ones.

In explaining the need for such a law, municipal officials cited the unending work of looking after discarded bikes, as well as a glut that far exceeds need. Before any shared bikes arrived in Kunming, the city conducted an assessment of how many might be necessary to effectively cut down on traffic congestion. The agreed upon number for the entirety of the Kunming municipal area was 300,000.

Start-ups such as Hello-Bike, ofo, Mobike and other companies first introduced the “shared transportation economy” to Kunming in the spring of 2017. Since then, more than 350,000 multi-colored bikes have flooded the streets and alleyways. According to officials:

The rapid expansion of the number of bicycles, the chaos they cause, the lag in operational and maintenance capabilities, the accumulation of vehicles during peak periods [in key areas] and the occupation of public spaces have created a difficult problem for urban managers.

The new rules surrounding shared bikes go into affect on August 1. They also restrict children under 12 from taking part in ride-share transaction. A spate of regulations spelling out exactly where bicycles can be dropped off — and more accurately where they cannot — is also included.

Each of the six businesses currently licensed to rent out their fleets of bikes will now be audited and ranked according to unspecified “scoring criteria”. Those performing well will be allowed to increase the number of bikes they have on the road, while those receiving poor grades will lose corresponding market share.

Underscoring the drawbacks to Kunming’s shared vehicle market, three days before the new law was issued, a man made news for calling the police to inform them of a shared bike graveyard. The dumping ground near Xiba Lu is reportedly a jumbled mountain of discarded and mangled bikes covering 750 square meters. Speaking of the pile, one local resident told reporters, “This is not only a waste of resources, but also an obvious safety risk”.

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