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Hangzhou Offers Solution To Bike Sharing And Urban Management

摘要: According to incomplete statistics, there are over 30 bike sharing brands in the market, covering over 40 cities in the country and with over 2.35 million bikes out and running.

(Chinese Version)

Urban management has recently proven to be one of the major obstacles that are holding the bike sharing business back.

Regulations and policies concerning bike sharing are becoming stricter. Unlike cab-hailing platforms like Didi and Uber, bike sharing platforms anger the authority simply for the fact that the mobile bikes are mostly parked randomly, which creates safety risks in the city. At present, many are seeing shared bikes as urban garbage since there hasn’t been any proper and immediate management.

The political economy of commercial shared bikes


According to incomplete statistics, there are over 30 bike sharing brands in the market, covering over 40 cities in the country and with over 2.35 million bikes out and running.

Guo Jianrong, secretary at Shanghai Bicycle Association, had previously told the media that it’s expected that Shanghai would have about 500,000 shared bikes in the city. However, in accordance with Shanghai Road Research Center’s estimates, Shanghai can only accommodate about a maximum amount of shared bikes of 600,000. That said, Shanghai’s market is becoming saturated as supply is gradually reaching demand.

Driven by capital, acquiring market share fast is the top priority for bike sharing platforms. Issues such as inappropriate parking, high repair rate, and even traffic accidents etc. also come along as bike sharing companies proceed their expansion further.

Professor Xu Xiaojun at EDP Center of School of Management at Zhejiang University told TMTPost that the current situation has always been inevitable for bike sharing companies because capital will always go for market efficiency first instead of market responsibility.

“Now we have this extremely hot bike sharing scene. That’s driven by the capital. But the companies that will later survive will be those that have high market efficiency as well as social responsibility,” Xu Xiaojun said.

From his perspective, the game changer for the capital-controlled bike sharing economy and urban management is political economy: Commercial capital pursues profits while public organizations take up social responsibility. Bike sharing business will ultimately be regulated and supervised by the government and run by private enterprises.

TMTPost’s previous judgment is similar to this. But the big question is how to make it work. How should government supervise and regulate? And how should companies cooperate? The capital city of Zhejiang province, Hangzhou, which is seen as a forerunner in the public bike sector, is starting to make a brand new attempt.

What are Hangzhou’s methods?


JinTongKeji is the technology provider of Hangzhou’s city public bike system, as well as a public bike solution provider for other 205 cities in the country.

In some sense, this company is an example of political economy. This Hangzhou-based company is backed by the city’s public transportation group and the operator of the city bikes. It has recently entered the bike sharing field and launched its app DingDa.

Apart from the werid name, let’s take a look at their operation model solution to bike sharing and urban management.

1. Station+digital bar. Bike stations are a typical city bike model. And the digital bar here is realized by IoT chips, which cover a certain area with digital signal, allowing shared bikes to park within the signal covered area only.

According to JinTongKeji’s solution, they will set up fixed stations in the city, where users can acquire, and return the bikes. Insiders familiar with this matter revealed to TMTPost that the digital bar covers about 30 meters, and that users can return and park the shared bikes within this range. This allows users to park more conveniently while satisfying urban management’s demand by limiting the parking area to the right locations.

In fact, XiaoMing Bike has already adopted the digital bar method. TMTPost believes that this might be the perfect compromised solution for shared bikes and urban management. Bike sharing companies might adopt this method to manage their bikes in the future. It’s worth noting that to cooperate with the government, Mobike and ofo etc. have already set up some designated parking areas in some cities.

2. NB-IoT unlock and low power alarm. When the power of the shared bike is below 10%, alarm will be sent to the background system and relevant procedures will take place.

To ensure real-time GPS and unlocking function, most of the digital locks on the shared bikes are equipped with solar panel and power generator. However, under extreme weather or in cases where the bikes haven’t been used for a long time, the smart lock will lose power, making the bikes unusable. This happens easily in some remote areas and southern cities, which is also a factor that contributes greatly to making shared bikes urban garbage.

Therefore, low power alert is, in TMTPost’s opinion, a precaution method for bike sharing companies. NB-IoT technology is now being tested by ofo and Mobike for its low power consumption and low delay characteristic.

3. Voice command, NFC and UnionPay unlock. These are the new unlocking methods following QR code. Recently the 315 event exposed that some criminals are using fake QR code to send viruses to users’ phone.

However, voice unlock and city card unlock are still more fitted for elder people. QR code unlock remains the most popular unlocking method, which is hard to be changed.

Digital license might be the ideal supervision and regulation approach


Besides the approaches mentioned above, a digital chip might be the key to making shared bikes compactible to urban management.

JinTongKeji’s research center vice president Wu Zhiyang revealed to TMTPost that the best approach is implement a digital license management for shared bikes. That being said, enterprises would need to acquire operation license first and then deploy a certain amount of shared bikes according to market demand.

Furthermore, the chip installed in shared bikes should be encrypted and non-copyable. By scanning the bike, users should be able to see information including the operator, time of deployment, and expire time. On the other hand, the supervisor can regulate and supervise better via the chip and make bike sharing companies take social responsibility.

In addition to that, Wu Zhiyang visions that in the future shared bikes of different brands can be accessed to via one app, providing users with a centralized parking zone, information regarding of available bikes and rental services.

JinTongKeji’s president Zhang Liqiang told TMTPost that this solution is currently only an advice for the government, and that in the future they would actively communicate with the authority. In fact, Hangzhou is not the only pilot zone for DingDa’s city bike model. DingDaTech is going to provide its technology for 50 cities in the near future.

Despite the influence from commercial players, it remains unknown whether the government-led Hangzhou city bike model can succeed or not.

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[The article is published and edited with authorization from the author @Han Pei, please note source and hyperlink when reproduce.]


Translated by Garrett Lee (Senior Translator at PAGE TO PAGE), working for TMTpost.

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