How green is the dockless bike model
A few days ago the BBC news website ran an article about the dumping of dockless bikes causing major problems in large cities across Asia. As usual the BBC is playing catch up here as here at the bike shop we have been aware of this phenomenon for at least a year.
A British guy living in China and Hong Kong had published a few videos on youtube outlining the problem, showing how the massive rise in demand for dockless bike rental had caused major logistic problems for city authorities as they were being dumped just about everywhere.
The problem being that it became so popular and affordable that it had huge take up and in extreme cases caused huge traffic jams of bikes on public holidays at scenic areas. People in frustration ended up throwing their bikes in hedges, ditches or just abandoning them on roads which in turn caused a major headache for the authorities who have to clear them up.
These schemes are so big in some of these cities that just a few percentage of abandoned bikes can be troublesome. Many things have been tried to solve the problem, for instance incentives for returning the bikes to controlled areas but obviously from all the recent news coverage it has actually got worse in these countries.
In this country we do not have the extremes of the problem Asian countries are seeing but we are not immune ; bikes are vandalised, dumped in rivers and hedgerows and we see the brightly coloured abandoned metal on our city streets with alarming regularity. There is no denying the side of this model that is green, people reusing bikes is a good thing but dealing with the problems may negate this, sending trucks in to pick up broken bikes, piling them up at depots until they can be sorted, dealing with the potential environmental impact of disposing of broken parts including all those horrible solid rubber tyres.
So city authorities should be aware of these potential problems if they are thinking of expanding current schemes or inviting new companies and schemes in. There's not much money in it per bike for these bike hire companies and that's why they are eager to increase the numbers and this is when the problems really start.