China has a growing bike-sharing problem.
Here’s what happened on Monday when 300,000 people visited Shenzhen Bay Park to celebrate the Qingming Festival holiday
An estimated 10,000 people arrived on shared bikes, and had nowhere to park them.
Bike-sharing has gone through an explosive growth phase in the country, with Tencent-backed Mobike and Xiaomi-backed ofo joined by a newcomer, Bluegogo, in an epic battle to own the streets.
The differences in how bike-sharing works in China compared to Western cities are vast, however. For one, the bicycle is an iconic part of Chinese life, so it’s second-nature to hop on one when it’s handy.
The problem is, there’s always one handy. In an effort to get the upper hand, the start-ups offer stationless bikes.
You see one, you use the app to pay for it, and the bike is unlocked for you:
When you’re done, you dump it.
Many of those bikes used to get to Shenzhen Park weren’t ridden home.
It was hard enough to walk past them, let alone pull one out and ride it
Authorities had to call in five bike-sharing providers and order them to clean up the mess, and they spent most of Monday night doing just that.
On Tuesday, bikes were banned from the park. This is what it was supposed to look like
To give you an idea of how desperate start-ups are to get a foothold in the market, here’s how to advertise your bike-sharing service in China
Companies are literally dumping them in huge piles on corners, hoping theirs will be the next one taken.
Last month, authorities went on a cleanup binge and basically grabbed every loose bike they could in Shanghai
To catch its rivals, Bluegogo set up its own manufacturing plant and has partnerships with eight factories. It’s 28-year-old founder, Tony Li, last month told Mashable his company produces 10,000 bicycles a day.
It’s no wonder Chinese authorities are racing to draft some initial efforts at regulating the madness, including height restrictions on riders, service life of bicycles, and build quality.
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