China on Thursday issued national guidelines governing bike-sharing operations to nurture a new industry credited with spurring a transport revolution.
The move also addresses mounting complaints over an accumulation of millions of bikes on city streets.
According to AFP, the guidelines called on authorities to tighten controls on parking of bikes, devise systems to penalize offenders, develop standards on maintenance and bicycle life spans, and banned their use by children under 12.
Jointly issued by the Ministry of Transport and nine other ministries and agencies, the guidelines urged cities to come up with plans for integrating use of the rented bikes into overall traffic planning, in the latest official vote of confidence for the sector.
Shanghai and Tianjin had announced their own regulations in July, mandating a service life of three years for bikes and requiring companies to hire at least one maintenance employee for every 200 bicycles, Xinhua news agency reported.
The sector has exploded from virtually nothing about a year ago into an urban transport phenomenon.
More than 10 million such bikes are estimated to be on the streets, operated by more than two dozen companies.
China’s government has thrown its support behind the concept as a green transport option, and leaders like Ofo and Mobike have attracted increasingly large amounts of venture capital in a series of fund-raising rounds.
Ofo raised more than $700 million in its latest round, the company told AFP Thursday, after rival Mobike raked in $600 million in June. Both had already raised hundreds of millions in earlier rounds.
The new national guidelines, expected to be implemented by city authorities, also urged closer government supervision of bike-share companies’ financial operations to head off rising customer disputes, as well as establishment of mechanisms for handling complaints.