China's bike-sharing utopia turns out to be a real nightmare

Thousands of broken and abandoned bicycles are accumulating in surreal "graveyards" across the country.

    2018/08/06

NSFW    CHINA — China's dockless bike-sharing operators are reaching out to new markets, raising questions about the merits of this system.

Big cities such as Los Angeles, Seattle, Washington D.C. and Boston have seen the arrival of new dockless bike-sharing services since last year,

Most of the companies running these services originally started in China. While China used to be known as the "Bicycle Kingdom," most people have now traded their iconic Fenge bike for a modern SUV.

What makes these bikes convenient is that they're cheap, and can pretty much be dropped anywhere. And that's precisely why they are so criticized.

When you park your car in the street, or when you open a sidewalk cafe, you are using a public good for your own benefit. Hence, those activities are regulated, and you often need a permit to do so.

On the contrary, when thousands of commuters drop their bicycles wherever is most convenient for them, they all accumulate in the same place, disrupting traffic, and affecting people's well-being.

More than 1.5 million dockless bikes have been deployed in the mere city of Shanghai. And the competition is so fierce that Chinese operators have cut prices to almost zero.

Bluegogo was once the third biggest operator in China, with 700.000 bikes across the country. Like many other companies, it went bankrupt in November 2017, leaving thousands and thousands of unusable bicycles in the streets to be handled by the authorities.

More and more surreal 'graveyards' have appeared across the country to storage the countless broken and unusable bikes.
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