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  • On this episode of China Uncensored,

  • forget the stock market bubble,

  • this is China's incredible bike-share bubble.

  • Hi, welcome to China Uncensored.

  • I'm your host, Chris Chappell.

  • The good old bicycle.

  • That trusty two-wheeled iron steed.

  • So whether you're out for some fresh air and exercise

  • taking your kid to school

  • or grabbing some fast food atWickDonald's”,

  • bikes and China, like marriage,

  • go together like a horse and carriage.

  • Unfortunately, thanks to a bubble in dock-free bike-sharing,

  • that relationship has turned toxic.

  • So on today's episode of China Uncensored,

  • let's look at how China's bike-sharing program

  • has become a complete disaster.

  • One giant difference between China's bike-sharing

  • and what you're used to in the US is docking.

  • For bike-sharing in, say, San Francisco

  • or New York

  • you have to pick them up from a dock,

  • and return them to a dock.

  • And you can unlock a bike with a physical key,

  • or a mobile app.

  • The benefits are that it's easy for the city governments

  • to keep them tidy in designated places.

  • It's easy for the bike-share companies to track them,

  • and use vans to move bikes around to where they're needed most.

  • But there's a “last mile problem”.

  • That is, there are only so many docks,

  • and if there's no dock within about a mile

  • of where a person wants to start or end their trip,

  • they're simply not going to use the bike-share.

  • Sorry, everyone who lives in the Bronx!

  • But in China, cities have a cure for this last mile problem:

  • dockless bikes!

  • Thanks to GPS chips in every bike,

  • you can just unlock one using your mobile app.

  • And when you're done, leave it wherever you want!

  • And I mean: Wherever you want!

  • Sometimes the cure can be worse than the disease.

  • This is a photo of the entrance

  • to a park in the city of Shenzhen.

  • Where, as you can see, people ride shared bikes

  • right up to the entrance, and then just throw them

  • on top of the ginormous pile of other bikes

  • before going inside to enjoy the scenery.

  • China's dockless bike-sharing industry

  • grew like mad in recent years,

  • thanks to the brilliant combination of cutthroat competition

  • and no government regulation.

  • There's now about 500 or so competing dockless

  • bike-sharing companies in China,

  • each desperate to win market share

  • by filling cities with their bikes

  • with the idea being that if their bike is on top of the pile,

  • people will choose their brand over their competitors'.

  • With no limits to the number of companies

  • that could operate in a given region,

  • or to the number of bikes,

  • this led to unsightly clutter

  • and crippling choice anxiety.

  • I think she realized she's better off

  • just walking that last mile.

  • Two of the biggest bike-sharing startups in China are Ofo

  • and Mobike

  • Between them they've got more than 120 million registered users

  • and more than 13 million bikes piling up in Chinese cities.

  • And what made it all possible

  • is billions of dollars in venture capital.

  • Ofo, with its trademark canary yellow bikes

  • has raised at least 1.3 billion dollars in investment

  • across five rounds of funding.

  • And Mobike,

  • recently got 600 million in its latest funding round,

  • bringing its market cap to about $1 billion dollars.

  • And these companies with 10-figure market valuations

  • are locked in a cash-burning race to dominate market share

  • by pumping out bikes as fast as possible,

  • keeping the prices as low as possible,

  • and stacking them in the streets as high as possible.

  • To deal with this, some cities have starting sending

  • crews out to impound shared bikes.

  • Which make sense.

  • This cyclist has to ride in the street with cars,

  • because the bike lane has turned into a bike pile.

  • Here's a series of photos

  • from a Shanghai bicycle impound lot,

  • which thousands

  • upon thousands

  • upon thousands

  • of bikes now call home.

  • Fortunately, there's still space in Shanghai

  • to plant huge fields of colorful flowers

  • Haha, no it's more bikes.

  • And more bikes.

  • And more bikes.

  • And...more...bikes!

  • But at least there's been some pushback lately.

  • For example, after Shanghai realized

  • it had 1.5 million shared bikes

  • that's one for every 16 residents

  • it started to say enough is enough.

  • On August 18, the Shanghai Transportation Bureau

  • ordered bikeshare companies to stop

  • adding more bikes to the streets.

  • There's also a proposal in China to punish people

  • who park badly and misuse shared bikes.

  • And if anyone is good a monitoring and punishing its citizens,

  • it's the Chinese government.

  • According to the National Interest

  • their surveillance technology can scan

  • the entire populationin one second.”

  • I know it might feel like 1984

  • meets Terminator

  • meets Premium Rush...

  • but if it'll prevent people from leaving

  • heaps of shared bikes all over the place,

  • it'll be totally worth it.

  • Orand I know this sounds crazy, but hear me out

  • instead of punishing individual citizens,

  • the government could step in to design

  • and implement thoughtful policies to make sure

  • the bike-sharing companies act responsibly.

  • Haha, just kidding.

  • It's way easier to just punish people.

  • So what do you think about China's bike-sharing disaster?

  • Leave your comments below.

  • And now it's time when I answer a question from one of you

  • my 50-Cent Army supporters who contribute

  • to China Uncensored on Patreon.

  • Primo asks,

  • One thing I've been wondering is have you

  • ever thought of going to being more serious,

  • or do you think the satirical way of the show

  • is the way it should be?”

  • Good question.

  • So I started China Uncensored back in 2012.

  • Before that I was covering China

  • but in a straight news kind of way.

  • And I'm sorry to say, I found nobody really cared.

  • Which bothered me because I knew China is

  • a really important country and was having a big impact

  • on our lives in the United States.

  • This was also around the time the Communist Party

  • started building those artificial islands in the South China Sea

  • and claiming that proved it was their territory.

  • I found I couldn't keep a straight face saying,

  • the Chinese government has started to build fake islands

  • and are claiming it as ancient Chinese territory.”

  • No, that's absolutely redonkulous.

  • So I created China Uncensored with the tone it has

  • because that's the only way I felt like I could really say

  • what I wanted to say about the Chinese Communist Party.

  • And over the years,

  • I've found using satire has actually helped bring

  • a larger audience to China news and politics.

  • And be honest:

  • If all I did was straight news reporting,

  • would you still be watching?

  • Thanks for your question, Primo.

  • And if you'd me to answer your question,

  • join up in the China Uncensored 50-army.

  • We have a very low mortality rate.

  • And for only a dollar or more per episode,

  • we'll give you some cool perks

  • and you'll have the chance to send me questions

  • that I could answer right here on the show.

  • So head over to Pateron.com/chinauncensored to learn more.

  • Thanks for watching this episode of China Uncensored.

  • Once again, I'm Chris Chappell.

  • See you next time.

On this episode of China Uncensored,

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China's Bike-Sharing Disaster

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    zijun su posted on 2021/05/26
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