China’s Ofo Sued for $1.3 Million After Little Boy Dies While Riding Bike

The parents of an 11-year-old boy, who was fatally hit by a bus while riding an Ofo bike, are suing the company for 8.78 million yuan ($1.3 million) in damages, claiming that less-secure combination locks were part of the problem.

The fourth-grader, who died in a traffic accident in Shanghai on March 26, and three other underage companions rode unlocked Ofo bikes the wrong way down a road, where the child was run over by a bus after turning a corner.

Chinese traffic regulations say that children under the age of 12 are prohibited from riding bicycles on public roads, and police are reportedly blaming the victim for the recent accident.

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This is the first case of its kind in China, and Zhang Qianlin, the lawyer representing the boy’s family added that Ofo failed to strengthen its locks properly, which caused the tragedy.

“There were no notices or reminders telling the victim that he was barred from using the bikes. And mechanical locks are frequently left with the combination intact and thus are easily opened, and pose as a severe safety hazard,” Zhang said in a written statement to Caixin.

Ofo uses a four-digit passcode to open the mechanical padlocks on its yellow bicycles, instead of implementing electronic locks like Mobike, which requires registered users to put in passwords sent to them via text messages.

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However, Ofo has had more active monthly users than its primary competitor, with more than 62 million as of May, the South China Morning Post reported, citing iResearch data.

The Beijing company also received over $700 million of funding from investors led by Alibaba Group Holdings.

Ofo has issued an apology online following the March accident, saying it will find ways to prevent underage children from gaining access to its bicycles.

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h/t: Shanghaiist; Featured Image via jonrussell/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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