Bike-sharing services

Two major Chinese cities suspend Didi Bikes as municipal authorities weigh cons of adding more bicycles

Didi Chuxing, the world’s most valuable start-up, is branching out from its main business of ride-hailing into bicycle-sharing and takeaway delivery as it seeks to provide more services for its millions of users.

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 March, 2018, 11:29am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 March, 2018, 6:09pm

Two major Chinese cities have suspended a new bicycle-sharing service by the world’s most valuable start-up, as municipal authorities worldwide grapple with the social problems that come with dockless bicycles.

Guangzhou and Shenzhen, both in China’s populous southern Guangdong province, have rebuffed attempts by Didi Chuxing’s Didi Bikes service to start services in their cities, citing saturation and ill-management of existing bicycles, according to Guangdong News, citing regulators.

Didi said it is in “constructive communication with Shenzhen and Guangzhou authorities regarding the temporary suspension of new DiDi Bikes”. Users can still use other bicycle-sharing services from the Didi app in the two cities, the company said. 

Guangzhou traffic commission’s general office confirmed the decision in a phone inquiry that major bicycle-sharing firms including Didi, Harrods, ofo and Mobike have been asked to stop adding more bicycles to their fleets. The Shenzhen traffic bureau did not immediately give a comment when contacted. 

All bike-sharing platforms have to file written requests before adding new bikes into the market, according to a regulation put in place by Shenzhen traffic authorities since last September.

At its peak, more than 40 dockless bike-sharing companies were competing for riders in China, flooding cities with more than 13 million bicycles. That has forced Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Beijing to be more cautious about encouraging new entrants to the industry. 

While the bike-sharing apps are convenient for users, the industry is giving many local governments daily headaches. Problems such as illegal parking remain unanswered, and some experts say that’s largely because many cities were not designed to be bike-friendly.

Last year, Shenzhen Bay Park banned such bikes during public holidays after it was littered with tens of thousands of them during the Ching Ming break, according to the Southern Metropolis News. The park said it would continue to enforce the ban during future holidays.

Didi is striving to build its own bicycle-sharing brand, after acquiring Bluegogo, once China’s third-largest bicycle-sharing provider before ceasing operations, in January. Didi last year took part in two fundraising rounds of Ofo, which made it the bike-sharing company’s largest single investor with a 25 per cent stake. Together with Mobike, the pair have a combined 95 per cent market share in China.