In August of 2007, roughly a year before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, an entrepreneur rolled-out a bicycle rental scheme in the capital city. This effort was noted in both Chinese and Western media:
Although I think Mr Wang surely must’ve made money off of foreigners visiting the city for the Olympics, here’s what one of the rental stations now looks like:
The bicycles have long been abandoned, left chained together in key places through-out the city as they rot away. This particular place, in the Wudaokou area, had more than 50 bicycles. (There are actually two groups of bicycles here — one red and one white — I think the red ones might’ve been from a competing company.)
In discussions with friends at the time, there was a general consensus that the scheme would fail:
- The bikes were of poor quality
- Most people who would ride bikes already had them
- The one year fee was more than that a person would pay to own a bike outright (especially at some of the city’s “used” bike markets)
In addition, it seems that there wasn’t much maintenance being performed on the bicycles.
Note: the title refers to the movie Beijing Bicycle.