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on November 22, 2018 on 11/22/18 from ,

China’s Shared Bike System: Convenience or a Disaster?

Bike sharing is insanely popular in China. There are many different bike companies to choose from such as Ofo, Mobike, Blue GoGo, etc. These colorful bikes can be found just about anywhere in Beijing and the rest of China.

A heard of MoBikes awaiting riders.

It is extremely convenient because bikes are very cheap and can be parked anywhere! I have an Ofo account and it costs 3 yuan (appox. 0.40 USD) to ride from one place to another.

Some of my trips. 3yuan one way and 3 yuan back, still less than $1USD to ride.

The APP is very nifty as it tracks the total distance ridden, how many calories burnt, and amount of carbon (kg) reduced (I have 15km, 1kg of carbon, and 366 calories). Before locking up your rental the APP asks if there were any problems with the bike’s performance. You can report specific problems like chain issues, locking mechanism, brake system, etc by either photo or typing out the issue. Workers come by and gather the bikes to take back to a repair shop to be examined and fixed.

A Mobike worker either collecting, redistributing, and neatly reorganizing the bikes.

Ofo is also partnered with my university, Peking University, and has special Ofo bikes that can be ridden around campus for 1 yuan (0.14 USD). This is an awesome deal since Peking University is huge and makes getting from one side of campus to the other easily.

Unlike popular cities in the US, bike shares must be picked up and returned to a docking point. This is convenient for the bike companies to keep track of their bikes and keeps things orderly in the city. Bike shares in China aren’t as organized. People enjoy these bike shares because they have the convenience of picking them up just about anywhere and dumping them anywhere.

A sad and lonely Ofo left in the middle of the road. I guess it was convenient for someone to dump it there.

Riding bikes in China is also very dangerous. There are separate bike lanes designated for bikes, but I like to call them suggestion lines. Traffic isn’t as organized as it is in the states. The bike lanes are a completely free-for-all. Cars, electric scooters, bikes, and people all compete to use the “bike lanes”. It usually ends up a massive honking/bell fest. Vehicles will drive down against when the arrows clearly point out they should be going up with traffic (I just bought an action camera so maybe my next blog I’ll try to get a video of the bike lane chaos).

The shared bike phenomenon is disastrous as other companies wanted a slice of the bike sharing boom flooded China with these bikes. Without regulation on where bikes were to be returned, the bikes filled cities to the point already crowded pathways became clogged. A solution implemented was painting bike parking zones that are seldom acknowledged. The flooded bike-share market needed a place for the insane amount of bikes to go. These bikes end up in bike graveyards.

A colorful graveyard of different bike shares. Picture taken February 28, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA. – RC1B44C9A850

Companies aren’t feeling the overwhelmedness of having their streets filled with discarded bikes so they continually dump more and more bikes onto the market. They hope that if people see more of their bike they’ll be chosen. If anything, I think it gives people choice-anxiety.

Bike-sharing in China is a phenomenon that is enjoyed and hated by the Chinese. It is enjoyed for its convenience and cheapness, but it is also hated because people are overwhelmed and sidewalks are now bike graveyards. It is forcing people to walk in the street which is dangerous as cars, bikes, and motor bikes/scooters fight for this space.