China’s bike share programs have been reportedly a ride-away success. Wired reports that the city of Hangzhou launched the $24 million bike share program to mitigate the vehicle exhaust choking the city. It was the first project of its kind in China. It recently won a sustainable transport award, and the city claims the bikes eliminate more than 110,000 tons of gas consumption a year.
But there is an annoying downside to these “dockless” bike-share programs. Riders leave the bikes anywhere and if that “anywhere” is a popular destination, the city ends up with piles of bikes. Responding to mounting complaints from citizens (and mounting piles of unused bikes), the city has designated a number of bicycle graveyards for the forgotten loaners. While it is sad to see these bikes rotting away in their above-ground burial plots, there is something beautiful about the aerial shots of the cemeteries.
Tech companies (and city officials) expanding dockless bike share programs in American cities need to come up with solutions to avoid similar situations (there have already been minor rebellions in Dallas, Texas). It is either that or start planning now for bicycle cemeteries.