A resident uses the app of Chinese bike-sharing service ofo on his smartphone to rent a bicycle on the street in Shanghai. Photo: AFP

High operating costs and low take-up rates have been a headache for US bikeshare program investors, but several Chinese startups think they have a solution: no docking stations.

The dock-less bike-share model removes the hassle of finding designated stations to pick up and drop off bikes, potentially making the service more attractive to riders. Additionally, maintaining and rotating bikes on docking station is a large part of the operating costs of US bike-share programs.

The downside? In Shanghai, popular drop-off spots have seen massive pile-ups of abandoned bikes, indicating the chaos a city risks with such a model.

But as the Wall Street Journal reports, that hasn’t stopped Beijing-based ofo’s plans to introduce a fleet of 50,000 bikes to US city streets. The company hopes to deploy the bikes to around 10 cities by July of this year.