Bike dumps create a growing headache

Bicycle 'graveyards,' where city workers dump shared bikes that are clogging the sidewalks, are a growing problem. A company source says tough new regulations are on the way.
Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

A "graveyard" of bikes at the junction of Jiangning and Kangding roads in Jing'an District.

Shanghai's traffic authority is working with bike rental firms to solve the growing problem of bikes clogging pavements, and the number of “graveyards” where city workers dump thousands of them.

The move comes as officials draft tough new regulations expected to be implemented in about August, a source at one of the companies, who asked not to be named, told Shanghai Daily.

One of the biggest problems caused by the explosion of bike sharing is the haphazard — and frequently illegal — parking and dumping of bikes, blocking pavements and even streets.

The city is dotted with official dump sites containing thousands of bikes collected and piled up by city workers.

“It is certainly scenery we don’t want,” said Liu Meijuan, an elderly lady who lives near a dump on the northeast corner of the junction of Jiangning and Kangding roads in Jing’an District.

“It is bad to look at, and dirty.”

The problem is a massive headache for both the traffic authority and the bike companies — especially as some of the dumped bikes belong to firms no longer in business.

“Putting bikes onto the streets was a market decision,” said an officer from the traffic authority. “We don’t have a budget to clean up the mess. And, after all, it would be exploiting taxpayers’ money.”

For the bike companies, it is an issue of budget and logistics.

“We first have to pick out the ones that belong to us,” said ofo worker Ma Yibing, explaining many bikes from different companies are often tangled up with each other. “Usually, we will work together with other firms to save us some time.”

Mobike said it is continuously collecting bikes, but due to limited maintenance staff number it is a difficult job. Meanwhile, more bikes are being dumped at the disposal sites.

And in some cases, the bikes are so badly damaged as they are tossed into piles that the cost of collecting and repairing them may not be worth it.

“The cost of repairing and refurbishing a bike may be too high,” said Yang Beiyi from Mobike. “Especially those ones which are basically scrap metal.”

Even recycling plants are reluctant to take them.

“You have to consider the cost of transporting, disassembling and sometimes extra fees for collecting them,” said a manager at the Libao Recycling Plant who identified himself as Zhang. “There is no profit in these bikes.”

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