The sharing economy in China: after sharing cars and bikes, here comes the e-scooters?

While the rest of the world is arguing over the pros and cons of the sharing economy, China is taking a big step to make it part of the mainstream, especially in the sector of transport. After the boom of ride-sharing Apps and the rise of bike-sharing platforms, a new type of sharing service has been put into use on the streets of Hangzhou: the e-scooter rental service.


These yellow and black colored e-scooters are produced by the company Uma. They are fueled by electric energy, can be folded and wheeled almost anywhere a pedestrian can go, and are allowed in public transport during rush hour, when “conventional” bikes would have been forbidden.

The way it works is very simple: first of all, people download an app which can tell them were to find the e-scooter. Then they can unlock it by scanning a QR code or by using a combination code sent on their phones. Those e-scooters can be tracked by the GPS system, which means that the riders are not required to return the e-scooters to a fixed docking station. Instead, they are free to leave them wherever their journey ends.

The e-scooter rental service has the same principle and purpose as the bike-sharing platforms. These types of “sharing” support public transport of overcrowded streets that require traffic navigation, reduce the number of cars running on the streets and therefore help cutting down the air pollution. E-scooters and bikes are the best form of transport for short journeys which are too short for a car ride but too long and tired to walk. What’s more, the e-scooter and bike sharing would bring “mental joy”, as well as increase the health and fitness level of Chinese citizens.

However, beside the advantages that it may bring to us, there are still problems to solve before the e-scooter can get on the roads: responsibility issues. As there has been a rise in e-scooter-related accidents, Chinese traffic laws prohibit e-scooters on roads or on sidewalks out of safety concerns. Currently, those e-scooters are only available for use in enclosed areas like parks, communities and universities.


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