China Is Still Sorting Through Its Colorful Bike-Share Graveyards

By Alan Taylor

Back in March, I posted “The Bike-Share Oversupply in China: Huge Piles of Abandoned and Broken Bicycles,” showing just some of the millions of bicycles that had been rapidly built and dumped into Chinese cities by bike-share companies looking to get in on the next big thing, only to crash hard. In the months since, more of those bike-share startups have gone bankrupt or consolidated, and the bicycle graveyards remain. Municipal governments are still wrangling with the fallout, confiscating derelict or illegally parked bikes, crafting new laws, and working out what to do with millions of abandoned bicycles. In a few cases, plans have been announced to refurbish and distribute some of the bikes to smaller neighboring towns, in others, wholesale recycling has begun, and bicycles are being crushed into cubes. The scale of the situation was so large to begin with, it will be a long time before the bicycle graveyards fade away.

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  • Bicycles of various bike-sharing services sit piled among the rubble of houses partially demolished in Shanghai, China, on July 8, 2018.

    Aly Song / Reuters

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  • Bicycles of different bike-sharing services are compressed into blocks in a garbage dump in Shanghai, China, on June 4, 2018.

    Aly Song / Reuters

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  • Bike-sharing bicycles sit piled up in an open area near a river embankment in Wuhan, China, on July 9, 2018. Recently, the number of shared bikes in Wuhan reached 1.03 million.

    VCG via Getty

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  • Mobike shared bicycles sit in an open area in Caidian District, Wuhan, Hubei Province, on July 31, 2018.

    VCG via Getty

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  • A pile of tires, stripped from shared bicycles, in an enclosed space on the outskirts of Hangzhou, on July 30, 2018.

    Long Wei / Barcroft Media via Getty

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  • Stacks of shared bicycles in an abandoned construction site in Hangzhou on June 4, 2018.

    Long Wei / Barcroft Media via Getty

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  • Aerial view of shared bikes impounded in an empty field on April 14, 2018, in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

    VCG via Getty

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  • Bicycles of various bike-sharing services are seen piled up near a river embankment in Wuhan on July 9, 2018.

    VCG via Getty

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  • Shared bicycles are compressed into cubes on the outskirts of Hangzhou on July 30, 2018.

    Long Wei / Barcroft Media via Getty

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  • Bicycles of different bike-sharing services are stacked among the rubble of partially-demolished houses in Shanghai on July 8, 2018.

    Aly Song / Reuters

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  • Share bicycles sit in piles along a road beside a river in Wuhan on July 9, 2018.

    VCG via Getty

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  • A pile of share bicycles in a garbage dump in Shanghai on June 4, 2018.

    Aly Song / Reuters

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  • Aerial view of shared bikes piled up in an open space of Hongshan District in Wuhan on April 2, 2018.

    VCG via Getty

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  • Bicycles of bike-sharing company Ofo sit in a vacant lot in Zhengzhou, Henan province, on May 20, 2018.

    Reuters

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  • Bicycles of different bike-sharing services are compressed into cubes and piled up in Hangzhou on July 30, 2018.

    VCG via Getty

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  • Share bikes lie in an open area near a river embankment in Wuhan, China, on July 9, 2018.

    VCG via Getty

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  • Bicycles of various bike-sharing services compressed into blocks in a garbage dump in Shanghai on June 4, 2018.

    Aly Song / Reuters

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  • Share bicycles sit in piles in Wuchang District on July 9, 2018, in Wuhan, China.

    VCG via Getty

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  • Rows of shared bicycles sit in an abandoned construction site in Hangzhou on June 4, 2018.

    Long Wei / Barcroft Media via Getty

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  • Shared bikes piled up in Hongshan District, Wuhan, Hubei province, on April 2, 2018.

    VCG via Getty

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  • Compressed shared bicycles, photographed near Hangzhou on July 30, 2018.

    Long Wei / Barcroft Media via Getty

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  • Thousands of Ofo shared bikes lined up at a construction site in Weifang, Shandong province, on May 27, 2018.

    VCG via Getty

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  • Piles of abandoned shared bikes at a relocation area of Jing'an District in Shanghai on March 20, 2018.

    Jackal Pan / VCG via Getty

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  • Mobike shared bicycles sit in an open field in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, on July 31, 2018.

    VCG via Getty

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