Two million ‘zombie bikes’ left in cities across China

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A bicycle junk yard in Shanghai. Photo: Xinhua News Agency

Two million bicycles – known as “zombie bikes” – are estimated to sit in streets and junkyards in cities throughout China because their owners have gone bankrupt or have liquidity problems.

Thousands of bikes have been dumped in a “bicycle graveyard” about the size of a football field in Xiamen in Fujian province, after Bluegogo, China’s third-largest bike-sharing company, went bankrupt, according to a report by Xinhua News Agency.

The bike graveyard has grown to a massive height that cranes were needed to reach the top, The Guardian reported. The pile of bicycles belonged to Bluegogo, Mobike and Ofo, China’s three bike-sharing companies.

Bicycle 1 28 nov 2017

Photo: Xinhua News Agency

These firms, once known as “Uber for bikes”, allowed users to randomly grab GPS-enabled a “shared bicycle” on the street for about 1 yuan (15 US cents) an hour and drop it off anywhere without the need to park it at a dock.

According to the China Bicycle Association, about two million “shared bicycles” were prepared for hire by 20 companies on streets in China last year and a further 20 million units launched this year.

Bicycle 2 28 nov 2017

Photo: Xinhua News Agency

But over the past six months, six of the bike-sharing companies, such as Wukongbike and 3V bike, have gone bankrupt as they were unable to generate enough cashflow to repay their debts.

Chinese media outlets have estimated that some two million “shared bicycles” have already become “zombie bikes” while more bike-sharing companies appear likely to face liquidity problems in the oversupplied market.

Unused and damaged bikes have been left on streets and sidewalks and have caused a huge waste problem for the country, according to a Xinhua commentary published in September.

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