This is why we can’t have nice things.
In China, all of the bike-sharing providers operate in a similar way. Instead of requiring people to dock their bikes at a shared station, like what you see with New York’s Citi Bike, the bikes in China don’t need to be locked down. You find one with your app, ride it, and simply leave it by the curbside when you’re done.
But bike-sharing companies in China have discovered one downside to this convenience: People destroying or dumping their bikes after use.
These pictures of a massive pile of bikes in Shenzhen say it all. Several bike-sharing startups are waging a fierce war for users in the tech town, and are flooding street corners with hundreds and thousands of bikes in the hopes of raising visibility.
Florian Bohnert, the head of international expansion at, Mobike, one of the bike providers affected, told Mashable that the pile was created by a condo facility’s management personnel.
“The Shenzhen government is most proactive in supporting us…This kind of behavior is isolated, but also criminal,” he said.
But the official rules on bike-sharing outside of Shenzhen are less clear. In Nanjing on Tuesday, city police rounded up bikes that were left by the streets and walkways, blocking pedestrians. Authorities have thrown bikes in a corner or confiscated them entirely.
Aside from the public nuisance caused by inconsiderate users, vandalism and theft are also rife.
Sellers on secondhand sites hawk stolen bicycles from bike-sharing companies, and online marketplaces like Taobao have had to ban such sales.
People on social media have captured sightings of bikes thrown in rivers or even up in trees.
The bikes from Mobike, ofo and Bluegogo have GPS units and are trackable. Bohnert noted that the company tracks its inventory, including bikes that get stranded or dumped in a river, but didn’t provide a figure on how many of Mobike’s vehicles get destroyed.
He added that Mobike tries to offer users incentives to treat their bikes better, including ride credits to users for rescuing stranded bikes.
Outside of China, city authorities are wary of bike-sharers behaving badly, too.
San Francisco’s lawmakers are reportedly livid about Bluegogo’s plans to expand into the city,the San Francisco Examiner reported on Tuesday.
Authorities there learned of Bluegogo’s plans to dump tens of thousands of its bikes on city streets, without having the proper permits to do so. They’re reportedly planning legal action against the Chinese company, should Bluegogo’s bikes start appearing on San Francisco streets.