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The Bike-Share Oversupply in China: Huge Piles of Abandoned and Broken Bicycles

in 2017 bike sharing took off in China, with dozens of bike-share companies quickly flooding city streets with millions of brightly coloured rental bicycles. However, the fast growth vastly outpaced its demand and overwhelmed many Chinese cities, where infrastructure and regulations were not prepared to handle the sudden flood of millions of shared bicycles. Riders would park bikes anywhere, or just abandon them, resulting in bicycles piling up and blocking already-crowded roads and pathways. As cities impounded derelict bikes by the thousands, they moved quickly to cap growth and regulate the industry. Vast piles of impounded, abandoned, and broken bicycles have become a familiar sight in many big cities. As some of the companies who jumped in too big and too early have begun to fold, their huge surplus of bicycles can be found collecting dust in vast vacant lots. Bike sharing remains very popular in China, and will likely continue to grow, just probably at a more sustainable rate. Meanwhile, we are left with these images of bicycle speculation gone wild—the piles of debris left behind after the bubble bursts.



A worker rides a shared bicycle past a huge pile of unused shared bikes in a vacant lot in Xiamen, Fujian province, China, on December 13, 2017

Because of overcapacity at launch, over 10,000 bike-share service bicycles were abandoned at a bicycle graveyard on January 13, 2018, in Xiamen, Fujian, China

Shared bikes stored and piled in Shanghai on February 1, 2018

A worker untangles a rope amid piled-up bicycles in a lot in Xiamen, Fujian province, China, on December 13, 2017.

A parking lot is seen packed with tens of thousands of shared bikes belonging to the Chinese bike-sharing firm Bluegogo in Beijing's Chaoyang District on March 5, 2018. Bluegogo, once China's third-largest bike-rental service, ceased operations last November having run out of money, leaving tens of thousands of its bicycles in limbo. Bluegogo was recently acquired by Didi, another bike-share company, which says it plans to replace some of the older Bluegogo bikes with its own

Confiscated sharing bicycles of different brands sit in a parking lot of the Huangpu District Vehicle Management Company in Shanghai, China, on February 28, 2017.

Thousands of illegally parked share bikes are temporary detained in a sports field in Hefei, Anhui, China, on August 17, 2017

An overhead view of part of a group of thousands of unused share bikes in a field near Shanghai

A drone shot of part of a group of thousands of unused share bikes in a field near Shanghai.

Bicycles from various bike-sharing services sit in a lot in an urban village in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, on September 7, 2017

A man walks past piles of share bikes outside a repair shop in Beijing on April 13, 2017.

An aerial view of shared bicycles, collected by police after they blocked streets and sidewalks, abandoned in a field in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, on June 28, 2017.

Chinese men walk past abandoned share bicycles, stored in a temporary parking lot in Shanghai on August 24, 2017.

Abandoned bicycles of various bike-sharing services sit overgrown in a lot in Shanghai, China, on November 3, 2017

Thousands of illegally parked share bikes are detained in a sports field in Hefei, Anhui, China, on August 17, 2017.

Thousands of illegally parked share bikes sit detained in a sports field on August 17, 2017, in Hefei, China.

Ofo bike-share service bicycles sit lined up in a street on November 23, 2017, in Beijing, China.

This picture taken on February 20, 2017, shows an employee of a parking firm putting bicycles from the bike-sharing companies Mobike and Ofo onto a truck in Shanghai.

Shared bicycles block a pathway in Jiuxianqiao, Chaoyang district, Beijing, on July 14, 2017.

This picture taken on March 1, 2017, shows impounded bicycles from the bike-sharing services Mobike and Ofo in Shanghai.

Bicycles from various bike-sharing services sit in a lot in Shanghai, China, on November 27, 2017.



Abandoned share bicycles sit in a temporary lot in Shanghai on August 24, 2017.

Nature begins to reclaim abandoned share bicycles, left in a temporary parking lot in Shanghai on August 24, 2017.

Bicycles of various bike-sharing services completely fill a large lot in Shanghai, China, on November 23, 2017.

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