Dockless App-Based Bicycle-Sharing Systems in China: Lessons from a Case of Emergent Technology

In Michael Nagenborg, Taylor Stone, Margoth González Woge & Pieter E. Vermaas (eds.), Technology and the City: Towards a Philosophy of Urban Technologies. Springer Verlag. pp. 159-176 (2021)
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Abstract

Since cycling can contribute to sustainability, shared-bicycle schemes have been encouraged as a green technology. In Chinese cities, however, dockless app-based bicycle-sharing systems have become a blight, resulting in tremendous waste. Ironically, this stems from the success of DABS—their rapid development and adoption. As an “emergent” technology, DABS in China consist in the confluence of existing technologies and extra-technological factors, situations different from the sum of their parts, where negative consequences are more difficult to identify and address. Additionally, DABS in China are a case of private, app-based technology providing a good traditionally regulated by municipal governments. For these reasons, it provides valuable lessons: The negative consequences associated with DABS in China result from a lack of policy formulation and implementation, failing to consider and address extra-technological dimensions. Private technology companies should not be left to ensure these goods, and municipalities must craft policies to ensure stakeholder interests.

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Rockwell Clancy
Virginia Tech

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