Photos: The “ofo bike graveyard” shows Chinese vandalism has reached new heights

This is shocking.

China’s streets are now thronged with bicycles of every hue that are placed by multiple bike-sharing companies. However, the convenient mode of transportation are not spared from outrageous vandalism. ofo, the startup behind the yellow two-wheelers, pretty much faces the worst of its kind.

To find out the extent of bike vandalism, AllChinaTech visited one of its repair spots in a remote eastern Beijing area off the fourth ring road, and this is what we witnessed. Speechless.

Broken bikes are piled up in the “ofo bike graveyard.” (Photo by Timmy Shen/AllChinaTech)
Broken bikes are piled up in the “ofo bike graveyard.” (Photo by Timmy Shen/AllChinaTech)

Thousands of broken and vandalized bikes are brought here from nearby areas and piled up like this for repair. The “bike graveyard” leaves repairmen worn out from attempting to fix these vandalism masterpieces. This situation is similar in other cities with ofo bikes such as Kunming, Xiamen and Shenzhen, just to name a few.

Ma, who was hesitant to give out his first name, was one of the nine repairmen at the spot. The 38-year-old temporary worker picked up his screwdriver, a file and a set of tire patches in an attempt to make a broken bike move again.

Ma, a bike repairman, patches a tire at one of ofo’s repair spots in Beijing. (Photo by Timmy Shen/AllChinaTech)
Ma, a bike repairman, patches a tire at one of ofo’s repair spots in Beijing. (Photo by Timmy Shen/AllChinaTech)

“This is not so difficult,” said Ma, wiping his dripping sweat with a glove. “Most of the bikes I repair here are the ones with scraped QR codes and numbers. I have to replace the plate with new codes.”

By scratching off the QR codes on shared bikes, riders may be able to keep the bikes for themselves. This is probably why most bikes that are shipped here are those with destroyed code plates.

Ma, however, is not a professional bicycle repairman. He came to Beijing with his wife about half a year ago, leaving his three children behind in Anhui, a province that is about 900 kilometers away from Beijing. He first worked as a delivery man, but when he learned from a friend that ofo needs more people in its repair force, he immediately accepted the temporary job.

“It’s too dangerous to deliver food. I had a colleague who died on the spot in a car accident,” said Ma. “It’s much safer to repair bicycles here.”

However, broken bikes have kept repairmen being weighed down with work. Ma said that he has to repair about 25 to 28 bikes a day. With about nine repairmen on the spot, the result at the end of the day is dismal. The speed of the bikes being fixed is far slower than it being damaged.

The bike-sharing startup claimed to have connected more than 2.2 million bikes in 43 cities, and has launched bike rental services in the United States, Britain, and Singapore. In late March, ofo announced its best performance of more than 10 million daily rides. The company earlier raised USD 450 million in Series D financing in the same month.

Given that ofo shows no sign in slowing down its expansion plans, the company must act fast to tackle its bike quality and vandalism issues.

(All photos by Timmy Shen/AllChinaTech. All rights reserved.)


Timmy Shen

Timmy is a contributor at ATA. He's passionate about photography, education, food and all things tech. He holds a master's degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

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