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Beijing says to ban new shared bicycles as it creates chaos to city
Residents ride bicycles from bike-sharing company Ofo try to pedal through a sidewalk crowded with bicycles from the bike-sharing companies Ofo, Mobike and Bluegogo, near a bus stand in Beijing, China, March 23, 2017. Photo: AP
After talks with 15 bike sharing companies in Beijing, Beijing on Thursday said that no more new shared bicycles should be put into the city.
This makes Beijing the latest city in China to ban new shared bikes as the country tries to rein in the unbridled growth of the bike sharing industry which has triggered not only traffic chaos but also safety concerns in urban areas over the past half a year. 
According to Chinese media, a total of 11 cities have banned new shared bikes including Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Wuhan. Considering Beijing is the capital city which plays a significant role in leading government regulations, Beijing’s move may trigger more cities to follow. 
In a statement released yesterday, the Beijing Municipal Transportation Commission said it would begin efforts to clean up parking, work out new technical guidelines on parking system, and establish a supervision and service platform, according to the Beijing Youth Daily. 
Beijing now has 15 bike sharing companies including two dominant players - Alibaba-backed ofo and Tencent-funded Mobike - and there is a total of 2.35 million shared bikes in the city at present, the Beijing Youth Daily quoted staff from the Municipal Transportation Commission as saying.
According to the Ministry of Transport of China, there are in total more than 16 million shared bicycles across China until July this year, and 80 percent are owned by ofo and Mobike. 
The trend of shared bikes started from some big cities like Beijing and Shanghai in 2016 led by ofo and Mobike.
The shared bikes are aimed at commuters who need “last-mile” transportation to travel short distances from subway or bus stations. People use a smartphone app to unlock a GPS-equipped bike from a parking spot and ride them as far as they want, for about 1 yuan ($0.15) for every 30-minute ride. Investors are encouraged by high demand for the service in China.
However, while the dock less parking mode of the shared bikes is quite user-friendly, the poor regulation has also led to mayhem on the country’s roads, with thousands of bikes discarded or dumped in the already crowed public spaces. Once a journey is finished, a user can actually leave the bike anywhere, if there is no mandatory parking area. 
In response to Beijing’s decision, ofo said it would strictly adhere to the rule and add around 100 vehicles to its dispatching system in Beijing to keep its shared bikes in order, according to the Global Times. Mobike also said it would give full support to the regulation. 
Market observers say the latest move shows that the shared bike market in China, in particular in first-tier cities, is saturated, leaving limited growth potential for small and late-entry bike sharing companies. 
In the meantime, against this backdrop, Mobike and ofo are making efforts to expand their businesses to global markets where there might be new opportunities, though they would have to do some localization work in order to fit into the local market. 
So far, Mobike has entered 150 cities in 5 countries across the world as of August 1, according to Xinhua News Agency; while ofo has entered 170 cities in 8 countries across Europe, South East Asia, and North America, according to The Paper.


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