(ECNS) -- The parents of a 11-year-old boy who died in a traffic accident while riding an Ofo shared bike have demanded 8.78 million yuan (.3 million) in compensation in a lawsuit against the start-up and other parties, generating heated online discussion.
The boy unlocked the Ofo bike on March 26 in Shanghai and was later struck and run over by a bus while riding along with two other teenagers.
Shanghai police said the bus driver bore secondary responsibility for the accident and the boy was primarily liable for the tragedy because he rode in the wrong direction at the time.
Shanghai's government hence released draft regulations that children under the age of 12 will be banned from using shared bikes.
In early July, the parents brought lawsuits only against the driver, the driver's company and related insurance company. Later, they added Ofo to the lists.
The plaintiff's lawyer Zhang Qianlin said Ofo neglected its management responsibilities, and set no warnings on the bike, while its lock posed a significant safety risk.
In addition to the claim for financial compensation, the parents demanded Ofo immediately upgrade all its lock systems to prevent underage children from easily accessing the bicycles.
Chinese shared bikes adopt different unlocking methods, and there were previous reports about teenagers misusing Ofo locks. Shared bikes have become ubiquitous across the country's major cities.
The lawsuit went viral on social media. While many showed sympathy for the family, some also questioned if the parents had acted responsibly as custodians.
Weibo user @hukoutuoxian said Ofo had chosen to use cheap bikes to compete in the market and failed to provide necessary maintenance while there's available technology to control the use of bikes.
Another user @marcochaoaichi said it's unfair to blame Ofo locks because the boy broke the rule in the first place and actually committed a crime.
User @ruishijidou said Ofo should make it clear that no children under 12 can ride their bikes, but that the parents have no reason to demand such a heavy fine.