The bike-share oversupply in China

A worker rides a shared bicycle past a huge pile of unused shared bikes in a vacant lot in Xiamen, Fujian province, China. Credit: The Atlantic

This is not a field of tulips, but a drone’s-eye-view of tens of thousands of unused share bikes lined up in a field near Shanghai. Credit: The Atlantic

Abandoned share bicycles sit in a temporary lot in Shanghai. Credit: The Atlantic

Last year, bike sharing took off in China, with dozens of bike-share companies quickly flooding city streets with millions of brightly colored rental bicycles. However, the rapid growth vastly outpaced immediate demand and overwhelmed Chinese cities, where infrastructure and regulations were not prepared to handle a sudden flood of millions of shared bicycles. Riders would park bikes anywhere, or just abandon them, resulting in bicycles piling up and blocking already-crowded streets and pathways. As cities impounded derelict bikes by the thousands, they moved quickly to cap growth and regulate the industry. Vast piles of impounded, abandoned, and broken bicycles have become a familiar sight in many big cities.

More photos in The Atlantic.