A Bike-Share Invasion from China

Issue 11-13-17   |   Reviewer:   Thomas Coe


Tourists, residents, and college students alike enjoy biking in cities worldwide. In many Asian and European countries, getting around on bike is more common than by car, with less congestion, cost, and pollution. 

Traditionally, you either owned your own bike or, if you were a tourist, you'd need to rent from a bike shop. In recent years, many companies have set up bike sharing that incorporate docking stations (bike racks, essentially) in various locations within a city. Lately, this model, which limited services to city-regulated companies that may have an exclusive market, has been threatened by companies that offer bike sharing without the requirement of returning the bike to a predetermined location. The convenience offered to users and the lower cost from not installing docking stations provided yet more benefits to riders citywide. 

The trouble is with where the bikes are left. Dropping off (dumping?) bikes anywhere in a city has created a problem unto itself. The drop-off locations are now determined by the user, and what's convenient to one user is not necessarily so for others. Or, the drop-off locations are at popular spots, which causes potential congestion and impediments to sidewalks and roadways. Traditional bike sharing providers aren’t the ones crying foul; cities and residents are too. Cities aren’t looking to curb the bikes, but they are seeking proper regulation of the bicycles' access and maintenance.

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