End of the road for shared bikes

A sea of bicycles awaited their fate at a yard in China's eastern city of Hangzhou, as their owner, bike-sharing firm ofo, struggled to stay afloat.

The Chinese start-up is facing major cash-flow problems. Last week, millions of users applied for a return of the deposits they had paid to use the platform.

But ofo founder Dai Wei has said he would find ways to overcome the problems, adding: "As pressures mount, we must endure."

The company, which started on university campuses in Beijing and expanded worldwide, has become something of a cautionary tale about the rapid debt-fuelled boom and bust of new technology enterprises in China.

The company has pulled out of countries such as Australia, Austria, Germany and Israel.

In Singapore, it continues to operate, although earlier this year, two other bike-sharing firms, oBike and ShareBikeSG, ceased operations.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 24, 2018, with the headline 'End of the road for shared bikes'. Print Edition | Subscribe