Food deliverymen have been a source of complaints. /CGTN Photo
Online businesses in China have made urban life more convenient for nearly everyone. Looking for a big meal delivered to your doorstep? There's an app for that. These services are so popular nowadays in China, they're changing urban landscapes.
At lunchtime, the busy streets of Shanghai get a little bit more hectic. Food deliverymen can be spotted everywhere, zipping through traffic.
"I start delivering at 10 a.m., and orders peak after 11. That's the busiest time of day,” said Xing Fuhao, a food deliveryman.
As many deliverymen go fast on their scooters, some have become a source of complaints for motorists.
“Some of them run red lights or ride on the wrong side of the road. As their salaries are based on how fast they deliver, they have an incentive to reach their customers quickly, therefore violate traffic rules,” said Xue Jiafeng from the Traffic Police Force of Shanghai Municipal Public Safety Bureau.
The problem is obvious. Among the 117 traffic accidents involving deliverymen in Shanghai in 2017, the number of riders with China’s top two food delivery apps far exceeded that of package delivery services.
"This sector is expanding so quickly. It is now difficult to rely on us alone to maintain order,” said Xue.
Ele.me, a food delivery app, has three million riders across China, and is acknowledging the issue.
“We are very concerned about rider safety, so last year, we became the first food delivery app to cooperate with traffic police in Shanghai,” said Zhou Zhihui, vice president of Ele.me.
Their collaboration involved assigning a code to every deliveryman and a 12-point traffic violation quota – similar to the system used for passenger vehicles in China.
“Those who exceed the quota will be suspended and required to attend courses, and the more serious violators will be fired,” said Zhou.
It also involves setting up a complaint report function in the app, which citizens can use to flag traffic violations by deliverymen.
“To encourage people to do this we have set up a fund. Citizens will be rewarded with coupons once they report,” said Zhou.
Shanghai traffic police say other similar apps like Meituan are following suit in working with the authorities, a necessary step to correct the course of this speedy industry.