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Chinese bike-sharing firm Ofo trying to prevent under-age riders after 11-year-old's death

Firm’s bikes will soon be available for hire in Cambridge

The Chinese bike-sharing firm, Ofo, is looking for ways to keep under-age riders off its bikes after an 11-year-old died in a collision on Sunday. Chinese law bans children under the age of 12 from riding bikes on public roads.

Today Online reports that China’s various bike-share firms have attracted huge investment in recent times with firms such as Ofo having simplified the bike rental process via mobile applications with no docking stations required.

Ofo launched in Beijing in 2015 and now has around three million users in 34 cities in China. Last month it began its expansion abroad with launches in Singapore and California’s Silicon Valley and its bikes will soon be available for hire in Cambridge.

The collision in which the 11-year-old lost their life also involved a coach and took place on a busy road in downtown Shanghai. It was the first known fatal collision involving an under-aged bike-sharing user and the incident was the subject of much discussion on Weibo, China’s equivalent to Twitter.

Local authorities have not yet given a cause of the accident. Ofo has said it is cooperating in the investigation.

The firm also said it was working on “a set of effective mechanisms” that would bar under-aged riders.

“We’re heart-broken,” said Ofo in a statement. “Developing a set of procedures to avoid another tragedy is our priority.”

Rival bike-share firm Mobike said that its system has been effective at keeping under-12s from using its services. It requires real-name registration and smartphone verification for a user to be able to use a bike.

Ofo, Mobike and others were called into meetings regarding children using their bikes following Sunday’s incident. They have pledged to install warning signs on hire bikes and to limit supply in areas such as schools.

Other potential restrictions could involve height and weight. Draft proposals state that riders should not be taller than 195cm or shorter than 145cm, and should not weigh more than 100kg.

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