Residents of Hangzhou, China, can hop onto any one of at least 86,000 bicycles and ride wherever they like. The bikes are easy to find, too, because people tends to leave them any old place. On sidewalks. Under overpasses. In parks. Leaning against walls and lying in vacant lots.
Police have rounded up 23,000 bikes so far this year and hauled them to 16 corrals around the city. From the ground, these bicycle graveyards look like junkyards. Seen from above, they take on an impressionistic quality.
Hangzhou launched the $24 million bike share program in 2008 to mitigate the vehicle exhaust choking the city. It was the first project of its kind in China, and its size is second only to the program in Wuhan. It recently won a fancy sustainable transport award, and GST claims the bikes eliminate more than 110,000 tons of gas consumption a year.
But no one anticipated so many lazy cyclists. Private companies started offering bikes riders didn’t have to return to one of the government’s 3,000 docking stations. People could simply drop the bikes wherever they liked. And so they did, leaving them almost anywhere. China News Service reports that in March this year, complaints from concerned citizens grew so numerous that the city began rounding them up.
What happens next is anyone’s guess. Until someone figures that out, the bikes will just keep piling up.