A well-planned bike-hire scheme could be very useful for Cambridge. Whilst there are several good bike-hire shops in the city, they do have limited opening hours. A reliable bike-hire scheme available 24/7 would be a useful supplement to their services.
Camcycle is, however, concerned about the proposed Ofo scheme. Unlike schemes in London, Paris and many other cities, the Ofo system doesn’t use docking stations. We fear this will put further pressure on the already problematic cycle-parking situation in the city centre.
Details of the exact bikes that Ofo will be deploying are hard to come by. Their publicity materials simply show pictures of Ofo bikes that have been deployed elsewhere. If the bikes being brought to Cambridge are of similar specification we have concerns about this.
The Ofo bikes used in their existing schemes in Singapore and China have a very simple mechanical lock on the wheel. They are not locked to bike stands. This means that users can “park” them anywhere. It leaves them open to theft and vandalism. We fear that vandals may pick up parked bikes and dump them where it will cause problems- for example in the river.
In the existing Ofo schemes the bikes are not equipped with lights. It seems highly unlikely that people using a system like Ofo would happen to carry clip-on type lights with them. The London Santander Cycle Hire bikes have integrated lights powered by a dynamo that are always on when the bike is in use. As lights are a legal requirement on cycles in the hours of darkness, not fitting these bikes with lights would be irresponsible of Ofo.
Camcycle cannot be supportive of a scheme that would cause more problems for people on bikes trying to park in the city centre, where bikes can be left anywhere such as in the middle of a disabled access route, and provides cycles without lights, which would be illegal to use the hours of darkness. The lighting issue and the vandalism issue may be dealt with for the cycles that will be specified for use in Cambridge; however Ofo are not sharing such details. The parking and obstruction issues will remain regardless.