China’s explosive love affair with shared bicycles has produced some interesting phenomena over its short history. For more than two years now, the mutilated, multicolored corpses of abandoned bikes piled haphazardly in city streets have become a familiar sight of daily urban life. Sabotage, abuse, vandalism and destruction are just some of the problems that have plagued the industry. Bikes have been hurled into roadways and dumped into rivers – even piled in front of the emergency vehicle lane of a Beijing hospital.
But the days of impunity for China’s shared bike users may soon be coming to an end. Mobike has just announced important upcoming changes to their social credit system that are designed to keep repeat offenders in check, introducing heavier penalties and fines for those who misuse the service, the Beijing Morning Post reports.
Under the changes, users will be given a social credit score of 0-1000 and be sorted into five categories based on their behavior. Riders will lose points for ‘uncivilized behaviors’ such as parking bikes in off-limits areas, blocking sidewalks or roadways, vandalism, theft, unsafe riding and other forms of bicycle barbarism. Points are granted for each well-behaved ride and (gasp!) turning snitch and ratting on your fellow Mobikers by reporting violations.
Maintain a score of 500 points or above? Congratulations, you will receive perks like early access to new app features and cash rewards for your good behavior. But dip into the ‘Fair’ category (300-500) and you will start to feel the orange wrath. Your rental fares will double: RMB2 for every half hour in most cases. On top of this, you will be locked out of features like early bike reservation and will lose coupon and discount privileges when adding credit to your account. Fall into the shameful abyss of the ‘Poor’ category (0-300) and God help you. Degenerates who find themselves at these depraved depths will be charged 100 times the normal fare – RMB50-100 per ride, depending on the bike model you choose. Scores will be reevaluated every month.
The new penalties, which Mobike says will go into full effect soon, comes in the wake of increased judicial pressure on shared bike firms from local governments fed up with clogged roadways, dangerous cycling behavior and others challenges to civic management posed by the bike-sharing mania.
Last year, Shenzhen authorities took advantage of new laws and forced shared bike companies to temporarily ban thousands of users found guilty of traffic violations from accessing their services. A couple months later, the city seized 10,000 bikes they said were parked illegally and held them at a ransom to the bike companies.
Mobike is rolling out this latest set of changes in response to a judicial advisory issued by Beijing’s Haidian District Court after a ruling on a case brought by a property developer complaining about increased management costs resulting from illegal bike parking.
Social credit writ large is becoming an increasingly hot button issue in the PRC, with plans for a social credit system for daily life currently taking shape. The scheme, which has been laid out in policy papers by the State Council, would involve a similar three-digit score generated from cashless payment patterns, personal finances, library history, social networks and other data metrics. This score would then be used to dole out benefits from bank loans to housing access and more.
Participation in one of the scheme’s current iterations – AliPay’s Zhima Credit – is optional, but Wired reports that participation in the state-sanctioned scheme will become mandatory for all citizens by 2020.