Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Sharing is Caring or just another Greenwash ??? (Dockless-Bike craze)

Have you seen the new Bike Sharing Rental craze going on in major cities around the world ??? 
Image - Tommy Alven

This spot above is a photo of "Stenpiren" (The Stone Pier). Several boats ferry people back and forth across the habour in between central Gothenburg and Hissingen with Stenpiren being the latest commuter station to be built. They are trying to facelift the former industrial shipyard dock regions. Somewhere on the other side of that industrial infrastructure mess is where I now live. But now, take note of this bicycle docking station rack with all the same style of blue bicycles above. This has been labeled by the new green economy people as a "for-profit sharing" business economy. But this type business model is not new and already has a name for the true nature of it's business, it's called "renting" in the USA or "hiring" in Britain. There are other well known companies who've also made marketing attempts at rebranding their business model as a sharing program and people buy into ths new public relations scheme which Uber calls "ride sharing." But Uber is not engaged in any type of sharing program, because what they do is control and broker the platform that allows people to rent their personal property to other people. Uber is nothing more than another capitalist taxi company that has figured out how to push all of their overhead off onto their employees. The people working for Uber are not "sharing" anything, because they too are trying to make money. The people using Uber are paying for a service. There is no "sharing" going on. Uber requires their drivers to use their own personal vehicles instead of providing them with a company work vehicle, which is simply a clever way to exploit a cheap labor contract. But again this has nothing to do with "sharing." Airbnb is also another broker business for people to lease or rent short-term lodging including holiday cottages, apartments, homestays, hostel beds, or hotel rooms, tours, etc. Airbnb also does not own any real estate or conduct tours. Again they are a broker which receives a percentage of the service fees in conjunction with every booking done through their site. Airbnb labels it's business model as collaborative consumption and sharing program. But once again they are brokers who rent and book services and this is not "sharing."

Downtown - San Diego, CA
So now that we understand the sharing scheme, let's go back to the same label used with Ride Sharing Bicycles which is now being promoted as a type of new age innovative sustainable eco-green business model, which in reality is nothing more than more capitalism being greenwashed. I was alerted to this subject by Billy "Lakeside" Ortiz who posted a photo of a line of  "ofo" bicycle rentals parked out in the middle of nowhere at a bus top on old Hwy 80 east of El Cajon, California. He asked what they were all about. Last week I had read an article in, The Atlantic, which blew me away as to the eco-disaster that millions upon millions of bikes this scheme has produced in the country of China where this all originated. But since that article, I google searched more news items which have appeared exposing the down side of these dockless bike rentals schemes. Here are just a few of those examples.
The clutter conundrum: How dockless bike companies are combating customers' littering
WSJ: Dockless Bike Share Floods into U.S. Cities, With Rides and Clutter
Bike Sharing Is Doomed to Fail in Most American Cities
Armadas of bright bikes pop up all over San Diego, attracting fans, detractors

Meme - @GregorysSanDiego

The Article from "The Atlantic"
Photo by The Atlantic (2018)

2008 Jeffrey Hays
This photo above is from The Atlantic article on dockless bicycles cluttering which is smothering Chinese cities. This photo above from the Atlantic article is of a worker who is riding a shared bicycle past a huge pile of unused shared bikes in a vacant lot in Xiamen, Fujian province, China, on December 13, 2017. Remember all those old 1980s photos of the giant Chinese population riding millions of bicycles in Chinese cities as their way of commuting ? This is one of those scenes on the right. During the Mao era bicycles were regarded as one of "three bigs" along with a sewing machine and wristwatch which people most desired. People placed their names on waiting lists for years to get them and took out loans form the factories where they worked to help pay for them. Chinese valued bikes in part because the public bus system was so bad and owning a car was unimaginable if not impossible. Many cities had wide bike lanes, ample parking spaces on the sidewalks and bicycles had the right of way at intersections. I remember when many of the environmentalist groups all praised the Chinese commuter scenario. But modern Bicycle commuting times today have become insanity. Here is that Atlantic original article I read last week and look at all those unbelievable photographs. 
TheAtlantic: The Bike-Share Oversupply in China: Huge Piles of Abandoned and Broken Bicycles
Below are a couple of videos from a guy I follow on Youtube who is originally from South Africa, moved to China and married a Chinese girl and talks about his life in China. These three videos deal strictly with the Bicycle glutter and pollution problem there.

Imagine walking outside and grabbing the first bicycle you see, and riding away. Then, once you reach your destination, simply abandoning it by the side of the road. That's the Dockless Bicycle Ride Sharing Business Model.

Stop trying to park me, and PARK me! - How to LimeRight park properly. This is ride share Bike company, "LimeBike's", attempt at humor as a solution.

Comparison between name brands video  
LimeBikeSPIN, Jump, ofo, BikeShare, Mobike

Irrespective of the eco-green marketing scheme used in the advertising, most bikeshare is still just Green Washing. Everything touted as eco-greener needs and requires raw building materials from Earth. Consumption cannot be halted because that's what runs world economies.

So What is the Bike Share Greenwashing ???
Illustration - Joanalee 
So what is Greenwashing ??? The definition is borrowed from another term known as "whitewashing" which itself is really taken from an ancient text found at (Matthew 23:27). However, in the context of "greenwashing" it is the practice of making an unsubstantiated or misleading claims about the environmental benefits of a product, service, technology or company practice. Which qualifies this bicycle dockless scheme as anything but eco-green. Here is another person's perspective below about "greenwashing."
"Greenwashing is the deceitful practice of falsely advertising the sustainability of a business in order to mislead consumers. With the increasing pressure from socially conscious consumers, businesses are striving to reduce their environmental impact. Due to lax enforcement of limited and vague regulations, businesses can easily intentionally manipulate consumer perception for ulterior motives or commit the sin of greenwashing through carelessness. When businesses brand themselves as ‘green’, they improve their brand image and consumers are duped into supporting unethical environmental offenses."
UBC: Joana Lee

Have Fun on your own bike and take good care of it 😁

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