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Cycle-share will be the next fashion in the world

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Cycle-share will be the next fashion in the world
Issue Time:2017-03-24

New cycle-share firms in China allow you to simply drop your bike wherever you want. They have caused colourful chaos and world cities could be next

On a 30ft-wide screen in Hangzhous public bike share office, the counter ticks up relentlessly: 278,812 278,847 278,883 Another 40 cycle rentals every couple of seconds. The system will easily top 350,000 before this bitterly cold winter day is out.

On the left of the giant screen, the worlds 15 biggest public bike shares are ranked. Thirteen of them are in China. (Paris is No 5 with 21,000 bikes, and London No 12, with 16,500). Hangzhou an hour west of Shanghai by bullet train is slightly larger than London by population, but its share system is five times the size. It comfortably tops the table with 84,100 cycles, almost twice as many as its nearest rival.

In many other large Chinese cities, though, its not the sturdy, official public hire bikes that stand out. Its the rash of brightly coloured docklessshare bikes, haphazardly piled on the pavements in their thousands.

Dubbed Uber for bikes, they are the product of a whole host of new startups, aggressively competing for territory and investment.