October 20, 2020

What happens to discarded bikes from China’s sharing boom? Taxpayers pay to clear 25 million of them from bicycle graveyards

Three years after China’s blooming bike-sharing economy wilted, local authorities are about to send the last of 25 million abandoned bicycles to recycling plants, pruning the remaining blight on cityscapes left behind by dozens of companies that have gone bust.

All the disused bicycles must be scrapped by the year’s end under a compulsory retirement scheme imposed by city councils to ensure safety. The costs of taking them off the streets and the bicycle graveyards are borne by taxpayers, as all but three remain from a crop of as many as 70 bike-sharing companies, each plying China’s streets with a different brightly coloured vehicle.

“Most bicycle graveyards have already gone,” said Wu Guoyong, a Shenzhen photographer who made a name for himself by using aerial drones to shoot dramatic pictures of abandoned bicycles piled into little mountains in almost every major city in China. One such dumping site in the

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