It was supposed to be a solution to the air pollution crisis in many Chinese cities and all over the world. But the future of dockless bikes is uncertain, as there are too many of them and there’s not enough demand. Has the industry been too ‘arrogant’?

Around 1.5m shared bikes are now present on the streets of Shanghai. And as it costs just pennies to ride one of them for half an hour, it is hardly a sustainable number. Just compare it to London for example, where there are just 11 thousand Santander Cycles in the whole city. The large number of bikes on the Chinese streets has led to clogged sidewalks, which are no longer fit for pedestrians and, as previously mentioned, to huge graveyards.

Shared bikes are placed in a vacant lot in the southern part of Hangzhou after being seized by city authorities. This vast bicycle graveyard is the downside of the world’s largest bicycle-sharing scheme. The venture, in the city of Hangzhou, in eastern China’s Zhejiang Province, is easily the biggest with more than 84,000 bikes. The bikes, belonging to a number of booming bike-sharing businesses, had mostly been left parked improperly around town by their users. After the bikes are parked in the field, the bike-sharing companies who own them are contacted. But it seems that most of them cannot be bothered to go through the rigmarole of reclaiming them, preferring to leave them to rust.

One of the industry giants, Bluegogo, even went bankrupt last year. Once hailed as “Uber for bikes”, China’s cycle hire startups raised more than $1bn in funding. It seems, however, that their expansion plans have been far too optimistic. What do you think about the situation? Is bike sharing the future? Or do you prefer owning your bikes instead? Let us know in the comments.

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