Abandoned dockless vehicles: cars vs. bicycles

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You’ve undoubtedly seen the fear-and-loathing photographs of thousands of unused dockless bicycles strewn about in huge piles in China.

Photo of abandoned bicycles in China that appeared at the Atlantic magazine website

A number of bike-share companies received investor funding for bike rental systems and installed them in cities throughout China. There’s been more supply than demand, creating  a huge problem of unused dockless bikes.

Some of those companies are operating in the US cities (ofo [yellow], Limebike [green], and Spin [orange] are all in Seattle). Could a glut of dockless bicycles become a problem here?

Perhaps, but the potential waste of jettisoned dockless bicycles is nothing like that caused by the auto industry, which produces its own “dockless vehicles”.

Slate.com published similar photos of acres of discarded cars in the US in a piece titled: “Wow. Look at These Astounding Photos of Abandoned Dockless Vehicles in America.”

Photo of abandoned vehicles stored in Victorville, CA that appeared at Slate.com

The writer, Henry Grabar, goes on to explain the problem of dockless motor vehicles in pretty much the same terms as others have reported on the problem of abandoned dockless bicycles:

  • “There appear to be too many of these dockless vehicles, relative to demand…
  • “And if you think that’s bad, look at these enormous paths we built for dockless vehicles…
  • “When they are in use, these vehicles have little regard for traffic laws…
  • “These dockless vehicles are unused 95 percent of the time…
  • “Though each vehicle customarily holds only one person at a time, its “parking space” takes up more than 180 square feet of land…”

Searching for information about how many vehicles are dumped every year in the US, I learned that up to 1 million cars were destroyed in one event last year when Hurricane Harvey struck Houston.

Photo of a pile of crushed car debris at Fritz Enterprises in Michigan. Photo from Popular Mechanics

About the only positive takeaway is that 95 percent of those dockless vehicles are recycled, according to Popular Mechanics. Maybe the steel from the cars can be used for dockless bikes, which don’t seem like such a waste when compared to cars.


Permanent link to this article: https://www.bikingbis.com/2018/04/24/abandoned-dockless-vehicles-cars-vs-bicycles/

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