Theft and sidewalk congestion plague China’s bike-sharing companies

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Top society and culture news for April 14, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina news roundup "China courts tiny countries."

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Though China’s latest bike-sharing frenzy hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down, problems are piling up like the shared bikes are doing on city streets. In some highly populated areas in downtown Shanghai, individuals are now banned from parking or riding bikes — no matter if they are private or rented. Major bike-sharing services in the city were told by the local government that they must withdraw all shared bikes from these restricted areas by April 19 or face fines of 20 yuan per bike. Facing a similar problem of shared bikes clogging up sidewalks, police in Shenzhen are now “partnering with bike-sharing firms to launch a joint command to monitor the number of bikes in designated areas to prevent congestion or chaos on the road,” according to the China Daily.

Meanwhile, the bike-sharing boom is starting to attract shady operators: According to this post  (in Chinese) on the social media platform Weibo, stolen shared bikes are being sold at prices ranging from 40 to 100 yuan (about $5-$15) on Xianyu (闲鱼 xiányú), a secondhand ecommerce platform operated by Alibaba (although judging by a search on April 14, such listings have already been taken down). Opportunists are also making money by teaching people how to unlock shared bikes to steal them, charging 1,000 yuan for each bike-sharing brand. One Weibo commenter lamented that “the overall quality of our citizens is not high enough to afford the sharing economy.”